When I was studying in high school for exams, I would always struggle to remember certain topics but could always recollect the easy things like photosynthesis. After a period of getting a below average grade my older brother introduced me to the Feynman technique along with a few other techniques to help me study to this day
The Feynman technique is designed to teach people almost anything. It helps people understand complex concepts and the recall things you have already learned and to study more efficiently
Who is Richard Feynman?
Richard Feynman is considered to be one of the most important physicists of all time. Nobel Prize winner for his work in quantum mechanics. Recognized for his work in quantum electrodynamics, particle physics and quantum computing and nanotechnology.
He is also known as “The Great Explainer” as he had the ability to convey complex ideas into a simple format that makes you understand easily.
His approach to learning was using a 4-step approach
- Identify the subject
- Teach it to a child
- Review knowledge gaps
- Repeat steps 2 & 3
Learning this technique is great if you are learning something new, understanding an existing idea, remembering an idea or studying for an exam.
There is more than one way to study
We are often taught in school that in order to study we need to read our text books several times over and write and rewrite our notes so that it is drilled into our memory.
Well there is another more effective way of storing it to memory and instead of focusing on what you already know it helps assist in finding out which gaps you need to focus on
Here is the theory around it
Feynman’s belief was that “if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough”
The principle is the ability to teach something to someone who has no idea whatsoever as to what the topic is. Most of the time people would say teach it as if you would teach a 5 year old.
This way you would be using plain English terms. The ability to do this will allow you to highlight what you understand and you will be able to pinpoint what you don’t know just yet
Once you have pinpointed what you don’t understand, study that subject again so you are able to re-learn it then repeat the process again by explaining it to someone
Using the Feynman Technique
Write the name of the topic you want to learn at the top of a piece of paper
For Example, “how glass is made” This would become the title of your topic.
Study the topic (1-3 hours)
Take a break (30min)
Write the topic in your own words and try to make it as simple as possible
Review your explanation and pinpoint any gaps that you can see
Study again and repeat the steps
That’s all there is to it, it is a simple and powerful technique which can be used to rapidly learn and retain new concepts and information
It’s important to take a break in between as this will help ascertain whether or not you have retained your studies
The best thing you can do from here is to either get someone you know and explain it to them, if you can get them to understand what you are trying to convey that’s great.
If you cannot do this the next best thing is to record yourself. When your writing your notes it becomes more apparent whether there are any knowledge gaps as there is less time to consider and ponder
Doing this type of study is a great advantage for those studying before big exams or end of year exams
Why you should use the Feynman technique?
By learning the gaps of your knowledge, you are able to eliminate the guesswork in your study, this means you are able to spend less time stressing and guessing what to learn with more time actually learning
With this streamlined approach to learning you will be able to go beyond the classroom and jump ahead of your peers
This method of learning will transform the way you think and it will help you achieve a better education regardless of what your aiming for; be it a doctor, trader, engineer etc.
Proven Method of Learning
This has been a tried and tested method of learning, not only by individuals but a study has also put this to the test.
Individuals were asked to study a passage of text in doing so they were asked to either prepare for a test in preparation or to teach another student. The participants who had planned to teach had a better recall of the passage and answered questions more correctly than the other group who had studied just for the test
To wrap up, using the Feynman technique is a great way to study if you don’t have a ritual of sorts for your studying. I understand that it might not work for everyone as I tried to introduce it to some of my friends but they adopted a different method.
Ill be covering some more different study techniques I have learned over the years as well
If you do decide to try this method of learning leave a comment on how it helped and whether you would recommend it to someone studying in school