The Feynman Technique: Master Your Subject; Elaborate

Known as the “Great Explainer”, Feynman was well regarded for his ability to take complex theories and reduce them to their basic elements.

The Feynman Technique

The Feynman Technique.

The Feynman technique is named after Richard Feynman who used its power to reduce a difficult subject to its essence and then teach it.

Known as the “Great Explainer”, Richard Feynman was well regarded for his ability to take complex theories and reduce them to their basic elements. He believed that to understand a topic, you had to be able to explain that topic. And for the greatest effect, you had to be able to explain the concepts in simple terms, terms that even a 12 or 13-year-old could understand.

The Three Steps to Mastery

  1. Teach

Imagine that you must explain the concept to someone who has no prior knowledge.

Keep your language simple. Avoid jargon and unnecessarily complex wording.

Use metaphor and imagery to describe concepts. Make them as simple as you can.

Show the relationship between ideas and explain them clearly.

  • Revise

After you have gone through the teaching process, check for areas that you couldn’t explain thoroughly. These are the areas that you still don’t fully understand. Revise these areas. Take as much time as you need to ensure that you deep learn the topic.

Then take time to describe the concept or topic to yourself in simple language. Write your explanation out longhand in the simplest terms possible.

  • Teach

Re-imagine that you are once again teaching the subject.

If you are still finding some concepts too difficult to explain, go back to the source material.

If you want a deep understanding of a subject, you must keep going back to the source until you have internalized the subject and are able to explain it in simple terms.

The process is, teach, revise, teach.

Keep doing this and you will master the subject matter.

Conclusion

Knowledge is a powerful tool, but in today’s society, we are all too often guilty of “Googling” our information. The problem with this is that we never deep learn any subject and are not capable of passing knowledge to anyone.

As such it’s important to remember that using something like the Feynman technique to enhance our learning, is not only useful but also important. One day we might wake up and find that we can’t access google.

Knowledge is only useful if we can access it. And explain it.

Resources

Wikipedia

Farnham Street

Article about Richard Feynman’s learning technique.

Youtube

Check out this YouTube video explaining Feynman’s technique.