You want to learn new things, don’t you? Do you also want to identify gaps in your knowledge?
Then this is the post for you.
In this short video, Scott Young details the Feynman Technique — an incredibly simple and effective way to learn new things and identify holes in your knowledge. This is one of the techniques Scott used to go through the entire MIT computer science curriculum in only one year.
In How To Read A Book, Mortimer Adler writes:
The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.
The Feynman Technique
Step 1. Choose the concept you want to understand.
Take a blank piece of paper and write that concept at the top of the page.
Step 2. Pretend you’re teaching the idea to someone else.
Write out an explanation of the topic, as if you were trying to teach it to a new student. When you explain the idea this way you get a better idea of what you understand and where you might have some gaps.
Step 3. If you get stuck, go back to the book.
Whenever you get stuck, go back to the source material and re-learn that part of the material until you get it enough that you can explain it on paper.
Step 4. Simplify your language.
The goal is to use your words, not the words of the source material. If your explanation is wordy or confusing, that’s an indication that you might not understand the idea as well as you thought – try to simplify the language or create an analogy to better understand it.
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Still curious? See How Do Excellent Performers Differ from the Average?