THE CURIOUS CHARACTER MASTERING THINKING:

(STORY BEHIND)

In the spring of the year 1918, there came into the world another sweeping icon capable of single-handedly defining twentieth-century physics, and that icon was, and is, Richard Feynman. Ah! Surely you must have heard of this man who was born into what was, in retrospect, perhaps an intellectual stew simmering to perfection.

By age 15, he had mastered differential and integral calculus, and frequently experimented and re-created mathematical topics such as the half-derivative before entering college. Feynman received a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1939 and was named Putnam Fellow. He received a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1942. In his theses, he applied the principle of stationary action to quantum mechanics problems, laying the groundwork for the “path integral” approach and Feynman diagrams. Yeah! Indeed, beyond my imagination! He made
his mark as an original genius, starting with his work on the Manhattan Project in his early twenties, through winning a Nobel Prize for his work in developing an understanding of quantum mechanics, and finally as a much-loved professor of undergraduate physics at Caltech.

Oh, Wait! Do you scratch your head when a co-worker who used business- peak, or had a teacher explain something with language difficult to understand? Don’t worry! This genius had a superb technique to solve your problem. The Feynman technique for teaching and communication: It is a mental model (a breakdown of his personal thought process) to convey information using concise thoughts and simple language. This technique is derived from Feynman’s studying methods when he was a student at Princeton. (Do check out the technique in our blog, THE ZUPERB GUIDE TO FEYNMANISM).

At Princeton, Feynman started to record and connect the things he did know with those he did not. In the end, Feynman had a comprehensive notebook of subjects that had been disassembled, translated, and recorded. You can use this model to quickly learn new concepts, shore up knowledge gaps you have (known as targeted learning), recall ideas you don’t want to forget or study more efficiently. Taking that concept further, you can use this technique to grapple with the challenging subject matter, one of the significant barriers to learning. Feynman had an exciting relationship with writing. Instead of committing his knowledge to paper like many other scientific figures, he chose to use speech as the foundation for many of his published works. He dictated most of his books and memoirs, and his scientific papers were transcribed from his lectures.

Richard Feynman, a Physicist genius, nowadays is a legend for some, and to me, it is an excellent man thinking extraordinarily. The way that Feynman was raised aid him to believe in skeptical ways, he was taught to ask the right questions, he said: “Knowing the Name of Something and Knowing something it is not the same.”

The key to learning is explaining to yourself first, but the adventurer mode is
explaining it to kids! … Okay, okay, perhaps that’s too hard, but it is worth the shot! Richard Feynman had cultivated a habit of deliberate learning, where he used to connect what he knew with what he did not know. The scientist decided to notch it up and improve the effectiveness of the process. So, Feynman started writing down every topic essential for him to know which he had no knowledge about. He kept a notebook for the purpose, which he called “the notebook of things I do not know”. Next, he started gaining expertise on the topics from the notebook and started teaching them. He realized he understood the subject better during his teaching and learned more about what he did not know clearly. Feynman was never one to settle for knowing the description of things or the accepted truths of things. Instead, he really wanted to know, and it was that burning curiosity that led him to his most remarkable work. Feynman was human, at times all too human, but his mind was devoted to figuring out reality the way it was.

-Urmi Joiser

Content Team,

Zuperly.

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