The Feynman Technique: Learn Quickly

Learn how to understand and remember complex topics using the powerful and simple Feynman Technique.

The Feynman Technique: Learn Quickly

Hey Friends 👋,

I first learned about Richard Feynman when I was studying Physics at University.

He was a Nobel prize-winning physicist who changed the way we think about particle physics and was the pioneer of the field of quantum electrodynamics.

He also worked on the Manhattan Project, but what he is really famous for is his ability to teach complex subjects in a way that everyone can understand them.

I have always enjoyed explaining complex topics, and I love it when I can help someone with a subject they are struggling with and see it click in their mind when they finally get it.

With my YouTube channel, I might not be able to see the moment that someone finally understands something for the first time, but I at least get some nice comments from my subscribers about how much I have helped them.

For me to be able to teach something to someone else, then I need to understand it properly myself.

The way I do this is by a method that is now called The Feynman Technique.

The Feynman Technique

This technique is fairly simple, but it is really powerful to help you understand a topic quickly and be able to remember it.

Most of the time when we try to learn a new topic, we just read it or in some cases highlight it, but we never do much more.

These are passive forms of learning, and it is what most students do when they are learning a new topic. I can’t remember most of the topics I learnt at school or even university for that matter because I relied on passive learning to cram in as much as I could before the exam.

The Feynman Technique is broken down into 4 main steps:

  1. Pick a topic that you want to learn about
  2. Explain the concept as if you were talking to a child
  3. Find gaps in your knowledge
  4. Review and simplify further

The topic shouldn’t be too broad, otherwise, there is going to be too much to cover. You want to pick something that you could explain to someone else in around 5 minutes.

While you are learning about a topic, write notes in your own writing and try to avoid any jargon. We have a tendency to forget that other people don’t know as much as we do, and by avoiding acronyms we can make sure that our own understanding is clear as well.

Once you have a good understanding of a topic, try to explain it in your own words or, even better, actually explain it to someone else. It doesn’t have to be a child, but ideally, someone who has no prior understanding of the field you are talking about.

If there is anything that they don’t understand and that you can’t explain to them in a simpler way, then it suggests you have some gaps in your knowledge. Go back and fill in those gaps and repeat the process.

Then go over what you have written, review it and see if you can simplify it further.

By doing all of this, you are actively learning something, which is much better than just passively reading and highlighting something. The Feynman Technique is one of the best ways to learn a new topic quickly and actually be able to remember it.

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I have been having a lot of fun using Midjourney this week, it is amazing what you can create using it. I have always wanted to create a game, but my artistic skills for creating characters aren't that great. Now my mind is buzzing with all the ideas that I could now develop.

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P.S. The Richard Feynman sketch I used for this post was generated with Midjourney. You can tell by looking at the hands 🤣.

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From Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are (affiliate link) by Jennifer Matthews. Resurfaced with Readwise.