Richard Feynman, a Noble Prize-Winning Physicist, designed the Feynman technique. This teaching technique and communication technology is a mental model to convey information using concise thoughts and simple language. This technique is derived from famous studying methods when Feynman was a student at Princeton.
“If you can not explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.”
This technique is beneficial to learn new concepts, to support knowledge gaps, to recall ideas, and to study more efficiently. Besides this, Feynman’s technique is also useful for writing challenges. Feynman had an interesting relationship with writing. Instead of committing his knowledge to paper like many other scientific figures, he chose to use speech as the foundation for many of his published works.
Feynman said: “In order to talk to each other, we have to have words, and that’s all right. It’s a good idea to try to see the difference, and it’s a good idea to know when we are teaching the tools of science, such as words, and when we are teaching science itself,”
Benefits of Feynman Technique
- Feynman’s technique helps you study more efficiently.
- Helps you retain difficult concepts for long periods.
- This technique enables you to learn anything.
Let us explore the Feynman technique for effective, better learning.
How to Use the Technique
Step 1: Choose a Concept You Want to Learn
Write the name of the concept, topic that you want to learn. Then, study the topic thoroughly. Try to understand the concept at a deeper level and simplify relationships and connections between ideas. Write down on a paper what you learn. In other words, take notes on what you learn. If you have difficulty putting thoughts into your note, that shows you need to study more to learn the concepts thoroughly.
Step2: Teach the Topic or Pretend You are Teaching
By learning, you will teach; by teaching, you will learn. (Latin Proverb)
If you want to understand something well, explain it. Explain the topic in your own words, as if you are teaching it to someone else. Use basic, simple language. This step shows us gaps in our existing knowledge.
Step3: Identify Gaps in Your Explanation; Study Source Material
When you explain something, you easily see where you know better, and where you have a lack of understanding. Review your explanation and identify the areas where you did not know something. Go back to the source materials and your notes and study again until you explain it in basic terms.
Step 4: Review and Simplify
Use similarities and simple sentences to strengthen your understanding. Draw diagrams show the connection between concepts. If you are able to convey your knowledge to anyone easily, it is the best indication that you learn the topic thoroughly.
- “Learning From the Feynman Technique.” Evernote, Medium, (5 Aug 2017), https://medium.com/taking-note/learning-from-the-feynman-technique-5373014ad230
- Frank, T. “How to Use the Feynman Technique to Learn Faster (With Examples).” COLLEGE INFOGEEK, (8 February 2017), https://collegeinfogeek.com/feynman-technique/
- “The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything.” fs, Farnam Street Media, https://fs.blog/2021/02/feynman-learning-technique/