The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything - Deepstash
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The Feymann Technique

The Feymann Technique

Richard Feynman was a Nobel prize-winning physicist. His real superpower, however, was his ability to explain complicated subjects to others in simple terms. He realized that jargon, vague words, and complexity reveal a lack of understanding.

There are four key steps to the Feynman Technique:

  1. Choose a concept you want to learn about
  2. Explain it to a 12 year old
  3. Reflect, Refine, and Simplify
  4. Organize and Review


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Two Types of Knowledge

Two Types of Knowledge

Feynman understood the difference between understanding something and knowing the name of something , and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. He was never content with just knowing the name of something. He wanted to understand it at a deeper level.

The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.


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Step1: Choose A Concept You Want To Learn About

Step1: Choose A Concept You Want To Learn About

What topic are you curious about?

Once you identify a topic, take out a blank sheet of paper. Write out everything you know about the subject you want to understand as if you were teaching it to a child.

As you learn more about the topic, add it to your sheet. Often people find it helpful to use a different color pen so you can see your learning grow.

Once you think you understand the topic, move on to step 2.


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Step2: Explain It To A 12 Year Old

Step2: Explain It To A 12 Year Old

Now when you think that you understand a topic reasonably well, explain it to a 12-year-old.

Use your sheet as a reference and try to remove any jargon or complexity. Only use simple words. Only use words a child would understand.

Anyone can make a subject complicated but only someone who understand it can make simple.


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Step3: Reflect, Refine And Simplify

Step3: Reflect, Refine And Simplify

Only when you can explain the subject in simple terms do you understand it.

Simple is beautiful.

Review your notes to make sure you didn’t mistakenly borrow any jargon or gloss over anything complicated.

Read it out loud as if to a child. If the explanation isn’t simple enough or sounds confusing, that’s a good indication that you need to reflect and refine.

Go back to the source material, reviewing the parts you don’t quite understand yet.

Repeat until you have simple explanation.


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Step4: Organize And Review

Step4: Organize And Review

To test your understanding in the real world, run it by someone else. How effective was your explanation? What questions did they ask? What parts did they get confused about?

When you’re happy with your understanding, take the page you created with a simple explanation and put it into a binder. Following this technique for everything you learn gives you a binder full of learning that you can review a couple of times a year.


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