Learn Quicker with the Feynman Technique

Feb 09, 2016

When I was sixteen, I used to wrestle with ‘Calculus’ sums, and never got them right. Oh, how those Math classes in school terrified me! The horrible formulas of Differential and Integral Calculus continues to haunt my nightmares, even today. No matter how hard I tried, Calculus simply refused to register in my brain.
It made me think, ‘Does learning really imply memorizing difficult lessons?’ Or racking your brains for the appropriate answer or idea? If you think logically, you will realize that real learning simplifies the process of education. Any concept should be explained in such a way that it penetrates your brain permanently. And, ensures clarity and deep understanding.

A man named Richard Feynman devised an extraordinary learning technique which enables one to understand, remember and explain any topic in just twenty minutes. It’s like a magic trick which makes the learning process incredibly easier, and is known as the ‘Feynman Technique’. Richard Feynman was a remarkable American physicist who was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1965.
Now, let us explore the new learning technique proposed by Feynman. The Feynman Technique can help you learn everything, including a humble problem to understanding concepts of quantum physics. It compels you to make your lessons easier, thereby helping you learn them faster.
How to use the Feynman Technique?

Choose any idea

First of all, write the name of the concept you wish to learn, on the top of a blank page. Whether it’s complicated Calculus sums, First, Second or Third World Wars chapters in History or ‘elasticity of demand’ in Economics – Feynman Technique will let you sail smoothly though any and every topic. But, make sure you use a paper and pen, instead of a laptop or any other electronic devise. Because, when you write something on paper, it really helps you learn better.

 Explain it simply

Now, you have to try explaining the chosen concept in a simple way, as if you’re teaching a five-year-old kid. Using easy terms, describe the topic in your own words, just as you have understood it. What I mean is, you must pretend that you’re teaching somebody who is not mature enough for a quick understanding! Hence, Feynman preferred to use the concept of a five-year-old child. Chances are you will stumble against certain points which you fail to grasp. Underline those tough concepts.

Identify knowledge-gaps

If you are unable to explain your topic in layman’s language, it’s time to return to your books. You will also discover certain grey areas, which might be tough to interpret and analyze. This means that you are yet to understand the topic thoroughly. That’s exactly what is called ‘knowledge-gap’. Once you know your knowledge gap, open your books and study the lesson once more. While studying, you can classify the concept into separate paragraphs, which is also referred to as ‘chunking’.

Create an analogy

Is it challenging to present your concept to a five-year-old? Why not use an analogy with which you can connect your topic to something you might be knowing already? Trust me, it is a great way to remember any new concept. Try to be imaginative and create comparisons between ideas, which might be similar to the one you are currently learning. Sometimes, using analogies can accumulate a series of facts – which explain things more beautifully. It’s an effective idea for people who have trouble recalling lessons.

Make it easier

Last but not the least, you have to make an attempt to simplify the topic as much as you can. Never mind if you forget a few details like important dates, as you do so. Do everything in your capacity to make the ideas sound easier. For instance, if you are a visual person, you can use diagrams, graphs or charts to represent the particular concept you want to learn.
Why you learn faster with Feynman Technique

Feynman Technique comes to your rescue in several unique ways. Let us observe how:

• Better understanding: It assists you in understanding significant   concepts, which you are incapable of understanding in the first attempt.

• Recalling ideas: Certain concepts, which you really understand, but tend to forget quite often are easily detected by this technique. So, you take extra efforts to remember the details.

• Detect knowledge gaps: If you employ this learning tool, you will be able to identify the areas which require a better understanding. This way, you will develop more knowledge about your subject.

• Better exam preparation: Feynman Technique is a handy tip while preparing for any kind of examination. When you practice simplifying concepts, you’re actually helping yourself memorize the lessons permanently.

Little did I know of this fantastic learning technique when I was in school. Or even in college. Had I known it, maybe I would have enjoyed those Calculus sums which managed to freak me out every time I tried to solve them.
Now students, since you’ve already come to know of the awesome Feynman Technique, why not consider using it yourself? And do let me know how it helped you, in the comments section.

Image courtesy: ocw.mit

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