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In today’s issue, I’m going to teach you how to learn anything fast.
Being able to remember and understand what you learn means that you can spend much less time studying.
However, most people fail because they don’t know how to study effectively and by the time the exam day rolls around, have forgotten the topic entirely.
This is not to do with poor memory or studying the wrong degree, but rather not having a good understanding of the topic and your own areas of weakness.
One solution to this problem is to develop a structure of studying to pinpoint the weak areas and fill in those knowledge gaps.
And this is the idea behind the Feynman technique.
In this edition, we’ll be covering:
- what the Feynman technique is
- the steps of the Feynman technique
- the benefits of using the Feynman technique
- when you should use the Feynman technique
Feel free to jump around to whichever section is most useful to you.
Let’s dive right in.
What is the Feynman technique?
The Feynman Technique is a method for learning and understanding complex concepts by breaking them down into simpler terms and explaining them in your own words.
It is named after the physicist Richard Feynman, who used this technique to simplify difficult ideas and explain them in a way that was easy for others to understand.
The technique is based on the idea that if you can explain a concept simply and clearly, it means that you truly understand it.
Steps of the Feynman technique
Step 1: Choose a concept
Pick a subject or topic that you want to understand better.
This could be anything from a mathematical equation, a scientific principle, or a historical event.
It’s easier to choose something that you are genuinely interested in learning more about, but it will work even if not.
Step 2: Teach it to a child
You don’t have to actually teach it to a child, but imagine explaining the topic to a 5-year old or someone that has no knowledge or understanding of the topic.
This means using simple and easy-to-understand language, with NO jargon and complex terminology.
This helps to make the concept more concrete and easier to understand for you, as it requires you to break down complex ideas into simpler terms.
Step 3: Identify gaps in your understanding
As you explain the concept, note any areas where you struggle or have trouble explaining.
This could be a specific term, an equation, or a concept that you cannot explain in your own words.
Step 4: Fill in those gaps.
Go back and research or study the areas where you had difficulty, in order to fill in your understanding of the concept.
This step involves actively seeking out new information and learning resources to help you understand the concept better.
It’s also a good idea to test your understanding by trying to explain the concept again, using the new information you’ve learned.
Step 5: Repeat
It’s also important to note that this is a cyclical process and you will have to keep repeating the steps until you have a full understanding of the subject.
Additionally, you can use different techniques and methods for each step, for example you can use diagrams, drawings, flashcards, etc. to explain the concept to a child or use mnemonics to remember the specific terms.
Benefits of the Feynman technique
The Feynman technique is one of the most powerful tools for learning and remembering concepts. The benefits are endless:
- Encourages active learning (one of the cornerstones of effective long-term memory building)
- Promotes understanding by simplifying complex ideas
- Identifies misconceptions
- Encourages critical thinking
- Enhances memory retention
- Develops problem-solving skills
- More fun (debatable?)
When to use the Feynman technique?
Although the Feynman technique can be used to learn pretty much anything, it can be time-consuming and should instead be used in conjunction with other useful study methods such as doing practice questions.
So, when should you use the Feynman technique?
Personally, I use it for topics that are complex and have many interlinking concepts.
Additionally, I use it if I’m having trouble understanding a concept despite reading about it multiple times, struggling to remember what I’ve learned or finding it difficult to solve problems related to a particular concept
It’s not only a great tool for preparing for exams, but also for presentations or job interviews, where you have to explain complex ideas or concepts in simple terms.
Overall, the Feynman Technique is a versatile tool that can be used to improve understanding and retention of any type of information and can be used in many different situations where learning and understanding is needed.
Action of the week 💡
Write an answer to the following journal prompts (or just think about your answer):
- What topics am I finding most difficult to understand or remember at the moment?
- What are my biggest obstacles when it comes to studying?
- How can I incorporate the Feynman technique into my studying routine?