From our childhood, till we grow old, the best thing we do is learn. It's not necessary that you learn what is written in your textbook or for your exams. We can learn whatever we want, and sooner or later, all those learning pays off.
But while trying to learn something, we often get distracted by other things. It's quite hard to give your complete attention to something. There are a lot of effective study techniques out there that might help you learn better and faster.
Among all those techniques, we are going to talk about a technique called the Feynman Technique. This is a study technique introduced by an American physicist named Richard Feynman.
Richard Feynman was a brilliant scientist and specifically known for his skill of relaying difficult ideas to everyone in a very simple way. He is also a Nobel Prize winner.
Now the Feynman Technique does something similar to that. The main goal of this technique is to learn and review any concept by describing them in the simplest way possible. This really helps when you are trying actually to learn something instead of memorizing them. You can almost learn anything using this method of learning.
Let's dive deep to find out more about this amazing learning technique used by many people. Firstly, we will discuss what actually is the Feynman Technique. Then we will go off knowing how to use it, what are the benefits, and some examples to help you understand the method better.
Figure 1: Richard Feynman
What is the Feynman Technique?
It happens so many times that the professor speaks to you in all those technical terms, and you fail to understand those things properly. Which later on leads you to lose interest in that particular topic.
There is a famous quote by Albert Einstein. It goes like this, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." That's the basic idea that makes up the Feynman Technique.
If you can explain a confusing idea in a very simple way, then you have a complete grasp of that concept. This eventually helps you to clear out your own confusion as well as find out problems by yourself.
This is a great way to learn anything new by gaining a complete understanding of a topic. It also helps you recall some ideas and works great if you want to take a review for your tests.
You can use this technique for any concept you want to learn faster. By using the technique, you can understand ideas that are hard to grasp. You can remember concepts far better that you usually tend to forget. And the most effective part is you can increase the efficiency of your study by a lot which helps you save time and learn a lot more than you usually do.
This technique is applicable to both technical and non-technical learning. All you need is the will and interest to try this method out. There are four basic steps involved in the Feynman theory that you need to approach to get the results.
Steps of the Feynman Technique
The Feynman technique features four core steps to go about. With just these four steps, you can learn almost anything. Below are the steps to attain your learning goals-
Figure 2: Steps of the Feynman Technique
- Identify the concept you want to work on: The first thing to do in the Feynman Theory is to figure out what concept you want to learn. Write out the concept name as the heading on your notebook.
Then find out what you know about this particular topic. Make a list of them in the notebook. It will give you an overview of the topic. You will get to know what are the things that you are missing out from the topic or don't understand.
On the learning stage, think of it as teaching a child. Use the simplest language that even a child can understand the topic. This trick also helps in understanding it in the shortest possible time as children tend to have a shorter span of attention. So, you won't need to be concentrating on the particular concept for much longer.
When you do these things, you get a much better grasp of what the concept is and how you should approach it. Things seem to be much more interesting and simpler for you.
- Review the concept: After getting the complete idea of the concept, try to think like you are explaining it to someone in your own words. This way, you will get to know the loopholes in your understanding.
When you try to explain a concept, questions will pop up in your mind. These questions will give you a better understanding of the concept you are dealing with.
If you fail to make someone understand a concept, then you might not have found the right language or might not have got the actual idea of the concept. So, you can always go back to your notes and fix what you are doing wrong with it.
While doing that, you might end up developing new ideas of your own regarding the concept, which will make it a lot easier for you to convey the thoughts behind this. Then you can easily use your own words that will be simple to understand as you came up with an idea of your own. It's always easy to convey your own ideas rather than someone else's.
- Organize and simplify: Now that you have got a grasp over the topic, you can just gather around the notes you made. Then compare your ones with the original concept to find out how much you have simplified this.
Organize your notes and come up with a summary of those. So, you can narrate the concept in simple words — read out your notes loudly. If you still get doubts, then you will need some more work in a particular area, which is actually a very good thing for clear understanding.
By following this step, you can come up with all those ideas that have the clarity to them. And finally, obtain a state of total understanding of the concept. You won't be needing anything to remember this concept because it will be like your own ideas, which are hard to forget.
- Explain it to someone else: After going through all the above-mentioned processes, it's time to practice what you have learned. To evaluate your progress over the concept, try explaining it to someone who has some basic knowledge about the concept.
How much you have learned will be judged by how much you can convey to others. If you explain the whole topic to someone with minimal knowledge about the topic, then you are done. You don't need to work on this one anymore.
But if you fail to convey your ideas to someone, then you are yet to understand the topic better. While you are explaining the concept, you might get questions asked by people, which may not have crossed your mind before. When that happens, you can use those questions to develop new ideas and clear out the complete concept.
Repeat all these steps until you can actually make someone understand the concept in simple words.
These are the basic steps involved in the Feynman Technique of learning anything. You can surely get benefitted from this technique.
Let's take a look at some of the benefits of using this technique for learning something.
Benefits of the Feynman Technique
There are a lot of benefits of using the Feynman Technique for learning. First of all, using this technique to learn gives you a complete understanding of the concept you are trying to learn. When you do that, you make yourself prepared to make better decisions related to that particular concept.
The Feynman Technique can make tough things easy for you over time. Most of the time, you leave out the topics that seem to be tough. Using the Feynman Technique helps you to have a grasp over those hard concepts.
By using the Feynman technique to learn, you can actually apply the learned ideas into the real world. Because when you learn using the technique, you get a total grasp over the concepts and develop complex ideas. So, whenever something happens related to the concept, you can immediately figure that out. And come up with a solution.
As the Feynman technique involves teaching yourself first, you actually attain better teaching skills, as well. When you teach yourself the fundamentals of a certain concept, you develop ideas of teaching as well. So, it's an added benefit of using the Feynman Technique. You improve teaching skills while learning a new concept, as well.
Also, your critical thinking capability increases with this as well. Because when you go through a concept over and over, then find out all those loopholes in your understanding, you open the door to thinking deep into a matter. When you start asking questions to yourself, then you tend to think in a different way to find answers by yourself. Which eventually helps you in critical thinking. This is a pretty handy skill in the real world.
Feynman's technique can really be helpful for those who don't want to write things down much. Because it completely focuses on the verbal conversation to make sure the languages are simple and easy to understand. Although writing down the concepts and ideas has proven to be an effective study technique it really gets tiresome at times. So, those who don't like to write and read can use the Feynman Technique to learn the concepts they are interested in with minimal writing needs.
It's really effective for people who like to use simple words. Or someone who is not a native English speaker. Because at times, there is some confusing terminology that is very hard to remember. So, using a simple language always makes it easy to remember the concept. As well as explain it to others. This is the most useful perk of the Feynman Technique.
These were some of the noticeable and most influenced benefits of the Feynman technique. Trust me; there are a lot more benefits underlying in the technique. You can get a whole lot done by following this technique to learn.
Application of the Feynman Technique in studies
This technique doesn't magically solve all your problems. But you get a better understanding of what you are trying to learn. Which makes it very easy to approach anything you wish to learn. And you won't have to rely on anyone. You can learn all by yourself. As we all know, "Self-learning is the best learning."
Till now, you have only known about the technique. Now you will get to know how actually to apply it in your own studies. You can apply it to learning anything. But I guess most of you are going to use it for your studies. Let's see how you can utilize this technique for your own studies.
- Identify the vague parts of your notes and concepts: When you are going through some complex concepts, then this technique can help you a lot. Mostly in the case of math and physics.
Identifying your lacking leads you towards true learning. Your knowledge of the concept is not enough to learn. You must have an understanding of the concept, as well. Or else you have to rely on cramming the answers and memorizing the concepts. This way you can pass the exams, but you can't learn anything.
Applying this technique will help you to identify all those lacking you have regarding a particular concept. And give you a better understanding of anything you are working with.
- Create analogies to recall concepts better: Analogies help you understand things much easier and far better. For instance, if you were to understand torque, you can refer that to drilling or using a screwdriver to nail a wood. This way, you can easily learn and understand torque.
When you are able to relate things to something you already know, then you can quickly learn that and remember it very easily. This helps while teaching. When you explain things in known terms, it gets easy for the listener to understand as they already have an idea about the concept, and they can relate.
It gets really interesting when you can relate something you are trying to learn with something you already knew or saw happening.
Coming up with your own analogies greatly helps in explaining things much easier and also remember what you learned yourselves as well.
- Use it for self-testing and comprehension of a concept : This works best when you are studying in a group. That way, you can all take turns in teaching. Also, you will get different opinions on a particular matter.
Explaining things to each other will help you to stimulate senses and gain different viewpoints at a single concept. Then you can take the one that suits best to your understanding.
For self-testing read all about the concept you want to learn. Be sure not to check the notes or books while you read. Try to develop your own ideas about the concept first. Then try explaining that idea to others or repeat it to yourself. See how much you understood the concept. Finally, refer back to your notes or books to see if you were right or where you went wrong. This way, you will have a completely clear image of the concept.
By following this, you can keep the learning engraved in your memory forever. You won't need to cram the answers for hours.
Figure 3: Application of Feynman Technique in Pythagorean Theorem
These were some basic applications of the Feynman Technique that you can use for your studies. Many students followed these and for benefit. So, if you want to learn better, then you should get along with this one as well.
Everyone has their own style of studying. But if you want to get along with the quick-paced world, you will want to learn all the stuff you can within the shortest possible time.
Sure, you can memorize the answers, but trust me in the long run memorizing doesn't pay off. You will eventually get stuck after a point. Additionally, by memorizing, you can't teach that to anyone. Getting good marks and passing the exam is not what education is about. It's about spreading knowledge and learning.
In a dynamic environment knowing the Feynman Technique will greatly help you. It sure gives you the ease of learning new stuff but also gives you some essentials life skills as well. You can learn almost anything you want using the technique.
With this technique, you will be able to work with efficiency and effectiveness. It will not only make you a good student, and you will grow up to be a good teacher as well. Remember, every good student can't become a good teacher.
Also, you will be able to save your time and ease your workload as well. Which a crying need in student life. Hopefully, with this technique, you will reach new heights of learning and make your dreams a reality. Keep learning; keep evolving.