Do you struggle to understand a topic? To make that worse, you can’t remember what you read either. Trust me I’m in your league, I can barely remember what I had for lunch even! In this article, I will cover the 4 steps of the technique which will help you learn any topic faster and understand better without any preachy procedure or overly-disciplined decorum!
You might be wondering, “this sounds too good to be true.” But here’s the deal. The method was not invented by any common man. The method was devised by Richard Feynman. That man was pure genius.
There are four steps to the Feynman Learning Technique:
Step 1: Write down the topic to study Organize and simplify. Make a set of hand-crafted notes. Write down a neat list of all the topics you plan on studying. If you have already studied the topic, write down everything you know about the subject. You do not have to write down the details. Bullet points on the topic will suffice.
Step 2: Teach the topic Imagine teaching a student the topic you learned. Assume an invisible student sitting in front of you waiting for your lessons with a notepad and a pen. Play the role of a good teacher and teach your virtual student. As an alternative, you can use a mirror to teach yourself too. Watching you teach yourself will help you gain confidence and even make you a better presenter. While you teach the topic, you will realize the gaps in your knowledge.
Step 3: Review Only when you encounter gaps in your knowledge — where you forget something important, are not able to explain it, or simply have trouble thinking of how variables interact — can you really start learning. Identifying the boundaries of your understanding also limits the mistakes you’re liable to make and increases your chance of success when applying knowledge.
Step 4: Teach a kid ( Transmit ) Yes, you heard me right. Teach a friend. Not your smart adult friend, but rather a 12-year-old who has just enough vocabulary and attention span to understand basic concepts and relationships.
It turns out that one of the ways we trick ourselves is that we use complicated vocabulary and jargon and it masks our lack of understanding. Use simple words, real-life examples, easy to understand pictures or relatable analogies.
If you want to understand a subject well, explain it in a plain vanilla flavor. If you can, you have a good handle on the topic. If you cannot, grab your book again. Not only is the Feynman Technique a wonderful recipe for learning, but it’s also a window into a different way of thinking that allows you to tear ideas apart and reconstruct them from the ground up. Keep learning, keep teaching and keep simplifying.