How to Use the Feynman Technique to Learn Faster?
If you want to understand something well, try to explain it simply.
By attempting to explain a concept in simple terms, you’ll quickly see where you have a good understanding of that concept. You’ll also be able to instantly pinpoint your problem areas, because they’ll be the areas where you either get stuck or where you end up resorting to using complex language and terminology.
This is the idea behind the Feynman Technique.
Named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman – who, in addition to being a brilliant scientist, was also called “The Great Explainer” for his ability to relay complex ideas to others in simple, intuitive ways –the Feynman Technique is a method for learning or reviewing a concept quickly by explaining it in plain, simple language.
In addition to helping you pinpoint those problem areas in the concept you’re trying to learn, the Feynman Technique gives you a quick, efficient way to shore up those areas using targeted learning. It’s a simple technique, but it’ll help you study much more efficiently once you put into action.
So how do you actually use it?
How to Use the Feynman Technique
Since the root of this technique involves explaining the concept, you could execute it in a number of ways – including literally grabbing a friend and explaining to them what you’re learning. However, you don’t always have willing friends at hand, so here’s the simpler method that just involves a sheet of paper.
Step 1: Grab a sheet of paper and write the name of the concept at the top. You can use pretty much any concept or idea – even though the technique is named after Feynman, it’s not limited solely to math and science.
Step 2: Explain the concept in your own words as if you were teaching it to someone else. Focus on using plain, simple language. Don’t limit your explanation to a simple definition or a broad overview; challenge yourself to work through an example or two as well to ensure you can put the concept into action.
Step 3: Review your explanation and identify the areas where you didn’t know something or where you feel your explanation is shaky. Once you’ve pinpointed them, go back to the source material, your notes, or any examples you can find in order to shore up your understanding.
Step 4: If there are any areas in your explanation where you’ve used lots of technical terms or complex language, challenge yourself to re-write these sections in simpler terms. Make sure your explanation could be understood by someone without the knowledge base you believe you already have.
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