Knowing and understanding are two different things. Unfortunately, we often mix these two words. Our study/learning process helps us know topics and does not help us understand a subject thoroughly.
Today we will talk about a mental model introduced by Richard Feynman, the Nobel-winning physicist. This mental model will help you to learn faster, understand better and teach others.
About Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman was a physicist who made significant contributions to quantum mechanics and particle physics. He was also the introducer of the nanotechnology concept.
Feynman considered learning to be a process that should be simpler and easier. Throughout his life, he has tried to find ways to transmit his knowledge in ways that people can quickly grasp. His nickname was “The Great Explainer.”
What is the Feynman Technique of learning?
The Feynman Technique is a simple learning method to understand any topic. It can be used to learn anything faster and to learn effectively. It consists of 4 easy steps that we must repeat until perfection.
Feynman Technique Steps
Step 1: – Identify a topic.
Step 2: Try to explain the topic in the easiest of words to yourself or others. Do not use any fancy or complicated terminology. Instead, use your own words and make it as simple as possible.
Step 3: Read your explanation. Identify the gaps in your understanding and try to review the topic or lecture.
Step 4: Re-write the explanation again in the simplest form possible.
Repeat the process until you can explain this topic to an amateur who has no idea about this topic. That is when you have completed your understanding and knowledge of the topic.
Why the Feynman technique of learning works?
- This technique is an active learning process that helps to engage your brain in grinding information.
- It helps to find out the gaps in your understanding and fills the gaps with knowledge.
- Provides a proper understanding of the topic, making it easier to explain the topic to someone else.
- It is easier to find out your lackings in a particular topic.
- Teaching someone else builds confidence.
- More straightforward explanations are easier to memorize and remember. So retention of information is more.
How to Apply the Feynman Technique of learning
Now let us provide an appropriate example that will help you understand how to apply this technique in different fields of your study process.
Step 1: Choose a topic. Any topic that you have learned or attended a lecture on. Put the subject as the headline.
For example- Global Warming
Step 2: Explain the topic to someone younger or an amateur who has no idea about the issue using the simplest words and terminologies.
For example, Global warming is the overall increase in temperature of the earth due to the effects of greenhouse gas.
Step 3: Review the explanation and try to find out gaps.
Example: When you try to give this explanation to a five-year-old, he will have two questions:
- What is a greenhouse gas?
- How does the greenhouse gas do it?
Although our explanation is correct, it is not simple enough, nor does it give a complete idea.
Step 4: Make it more simple.
Global warming increases temperature due to different gases, which withhold the temperature transmitted from the sun to the earth.
If you look at the explanation, you will find all the qualities that the Feynman Technique of learning represents. The explanation is simple and concise yet gives a complete idea about the topic in general. This is how we should apply the Feynman Technique in real life. You can check out more examples here.
Disadvantages of the Feynman Technique
It could take much time to find all the gaps in a specific topic
Initially, this technique may be overwhelming as it will give you insights into how little you understand.
We can not easily explain all topics to a person without prior knowledge in that sector. It might be a difficult task to explain it to an amateur even when you completely understand.
The Feynman Technique is one of the easiest yet effective learning models to date. It can not only help you to study better but in all aspects of life. The importance of understanding a topic clearly and wholly is often overlooked. But through this mental model, you will be able to develop a proper understanding and efficiency in your field.
Best of luck in using this technique.