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The Feynman Technique: How to Learn Anything Faster and More Efficiently

Richard Feynman

... the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, was recognized as someone who could clearly explain complex topics in a way that everybody—even those without degrees in the sciences—could understand

While studying at Princeton, Feynman began recording and connecting the information he knew with the things that he either didn't know or didn't understand.
This resulted in a complete notebook of topics and subjects that he had disassembled, translated, reassembled, and written down in simple terms.

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The Feynman Technique

Richard Feynman understood the difference between:

  • knowing something and
  • knowing the name of something

He created a formula for learning that ensured h...

4 Steps to the Feynman Technique.
  1. Teach it to a child. Write down what you know about the subject in plain language. This forces you to understand the concept at a deeper level and simplify relationships and connections between ideas.
  2. Review the gaps in your knowledge that you uncovered in step 1. Identifying the boundaries of your understanding limits possible mistakes and increase chances of success.
  3. Organize and Simplify your new set of hand-crafted notes. A good indication that your understanding in that area still needs some work is If the explanation isn’t simple or sounds confusing.
  4. (optional): Transmit.The ultimate test of your knowledge is your capacity to convey it to another.
Richard Feynman (1918–1988) "The Great Explainer”

He is considered to be one of the most important physicists of all time.

Feynman was brilliant, eloquent, and an exquisitely passionate thinker who stands unequivocally for his...
The Feynman Technique
The Feynman technique for teaching and communication is a mental model (a breakdown of his personal thought process) to convey information using to the point thoughts and simple language.

Feynman started to record and connect the things he did know with those he did not know, resulting in a thorough notebook of subjects that had been disassembled, translated, and recorded.

We can use this same model to learn new concepts.

“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 sc...

“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.” 

Richard Feynman

Learning how to learn

Learning how to learn is a meta-skill. It is a critical skill for everyone who needs to pick up and master new concepts frequently.

Understanding what is learning and how our memory works wil...

Learning skills

Learning how to learn is critical for everyone. Most of us have to deal with a changing world and to learn how to manage tons of new information.

However, most of our learning methods are outdated and far from optimal. It may even be giving us an illusion of learning, like re-reading and highlighting that don't provide proper feedback to show what you haven't learned.

Focused and Diffuse Mode

Focused and diffuse modes provide two models for how we develop, elaborate, deepen and broaden connections. Both methods are important.

  • The focused mode of learning is about bringing related concepts together into a unit, called a chunk. 
  • The diffuse mode operates through a wider net of connecting general ideas across different fields. We use this diffuse mode while we sleep, exercise or daydream.