The Feynman Technique for Learning

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One of the reasons that I created this blog was in an effort to help me learn in a more meaningful way. There are multiple studies that show you can learn more effectively when you teach others - and there are multiple learning techniques based on this premise of teaching others. One such is the Feynman technique.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Attributed to Albert Einstein

The Feynman Technique

  1. Write the name of the concept.
  2. Write out an explanation of the concept as if you were explaining it to a layperson (or a child) who has no knowledge of the concept. This will highlight what you understand, but also…
  3. Pinpoint the gaps in your knowledge of the concept. Then go back and reread/relearn it to fill in these gaps. Remember, a child will always ask: “Why?”
  4. Repeat steps two and three as many times as necessary.
  5. Edit your explanation, aiming for simplicity over complexity. Use analogies. Use examples. Use illustrations.

Writing about what I’m learning

When I originally created this blog, I figured I would write about every class - which essentially meant copying my notes over and rounding them out. But besides being a huge time-suck, this also didn’t really fit with my original goal. It didn’t force me to re-conceptualize what I was learning, and present it in a way that anybody could understand. Besides, notes aren’t very interesting to read!

So, I decided that I’m not going to write about everything. I’m going to write about the bits that I find interesting, or difficult to understand, or questions that I had and the research I did to find the answers. I’m going to try to refer back to this post and explicitly follow the Feynman Technique, especially when I’m having trouble understanding a key concept. Hopefully this method will be both more useful for me and more interesting for the reader.

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