Feynman Technique for Learning

in #learning8 years ago

Richard Feynman was one of the most extraordinary scientists of 20th century known for his work in quantum mechanics. He won Nobel price in Physics in 1965.

While teaching undergraduates at Caltech Feynman didn't use fancy words and complex phrases in his sentences. Rather, he tried to explain things in a simple language with a touch of humor.

His learning technique is effective when you want to learn something new, understand some difficult concept or study for exam.

“I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”

He used to go to his fellow mathematicians and challenge them to explain to him any idea no matter how difficult it is in a simple words he could understand. He would than reach the same conclusions that they did who studied the material their whole life.

Here is how the technique works.

1. Choose a concept to learn

Pick a topic you want to understand. Find a blank piece of paper and write the name of that concept at the top. You can open up new document on your computer if the topic does not have a lot of formulas, drawings or flow charts. Yes, you can even open markdown editor and write it as a Steemit post.

If that's a new concept you want to learn, than start studying it. Otherwise, if you already know something about it, but you don't quite understand it, go to the next step.

2. Explain the idea

Explain the idea to yourself as if you are teaching it to someone who knows nothing about it. Start writing everything you know. You can write and speak about it at the same time the way professor does it in the class.

This way you get a better understanding of what you do and don't know.

When you get stuck or find gaps in your knowledge return to the books or reference materials and read more about the specific section that troubles you.
Repeat the process until you have explained the whole topic from start to end.

3. Simplify the language

Wherever you find that you used some confusing explanation for the concept, try to replace it with simple, easy to understand words and phrases. Use graphic analogies to prove your point and make your presentation clearer, more fun and engaging.

If your explanation is too wordy, you probably did not understand it good enough. So repeat the process until you have broken all these complex sentences into easy to grasp concepts.

When you are able to explain the idea by teaching it, it will stay with you for a long time and it makes this kind of learning process very effective.

It's a really good way to test yourself and see if your knowledge is fragile or if you actually understand concepts deeply. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Images from Pexels, no attribution required

Hope you liked this! If you do, don't forget to upvote and resteem it. Also make sure to follow @alcibiades to stay updated about future posts .


Years of teaching in professional and university settings, I found storytelling was very effective in technical subjects. The thing is, I never realized I was telling a story, it just flowed. Very nice post. Thank you.

Thanks for sharing!

Hi @alcibiades, I just stopped back to let you know your post was one of my favourite reads yesterday and I included it in my Steemit Ramble. You can read what I wrote about your post here.

Great advice on learning.

Thanks! Try it, works like a charm.

Nicely written.
I suppose I can consider myself a Feynman fan

I'm glad you liked it!

He sums up the KISS rule.....keep it simple stupid :) Thanks for writing this - it's a good reminder. I also like the visual on the whiteboard - it's sort of how I work things out, in bubbles.

Yes, he lived by the KISS rule. :) Thanks for the comment!

Yes, I have found that as well. Tell a story people will remember. And you will not forget it. Good oul Feynman, more than just a clever dude;D~

Yeah, he was one of a kind. :) Thanks for the comment!

surely you're joking, mr feynman.

excellent! thank you for the post.
i think everyone can benefit from this.

I'm glad it was helpful.

Fantastic advice; thank you for this. You may also enjoy Richard Feynman's book entitled "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

You're welcome! Thanks for the suggestion, the book is already on my reading list.

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