The Feynman Technique: Turbocharged Learning!

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Have you ever tried to explain something complex and found yourself tangled up in your own words? This is where the Feynman Technique shines. This four-step method was developed by Richard Feynman, a Nobel laureate known for his ability to simplify and clarify complex principles. This method isn’t just a learning technique—it’s a way to deepen your understanding of the material and ensure that knowledge sticks.

Feynman Technique Cheatsheet

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Breaking Down the Four Steps

1. Select a Concept to Learn

Familiar with cooking terms? Think of this as your mise-en-place (getting all your ingredients prepared before you start to cook). Choose a topic that intrigues you, something you’ve always wanted to master. Maybe it’s a programming language like Python, or perhaps it’s something as mundane as baking the perfect batch of cookies. Start by jotting down everything you know about it, similar to how you might read through the whole recipe before starting to cook.

2. Teach it to a Child

Now, imagine explaining this concept to a curious seven-year-old. How would you do it? You’d use simple language and analogies they understand, right? This step is about breaking down your sophisticated knowledge into bite-sized, digestible pieces. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough yet — Feynman’s words, not mine!

3. Review and Refine Your Understanding

This is where you become both teacher and student. Where did you stumble? What couldn’t you explain clearly? Those are your knowledge gaps. Go back, study these areas, and refine your explanation. It’s an iterative process, like perfecting a recipe through multiple rounds of tasting and tweaking until the balance is just right.

4. Organize Your Notes and Revisit Them Regularly

Finally, arrange your insights neatly. These notes are your personal cheat sheet. By revisiting them, you reinforce what you’ve learned and keep the details fresh, ready for whenever you need them.

Why It Works

The beauty of the Feynman Technique lies in its simplicity and the powerful principle it leverages: If you want to understand something well, teach it. The act of teaching forces you to structure your knowledge, explain it clearly, and adjust based on feedback, whether from an actual audience or a hypothetical one. This method doesn’t just fill gaps in your knowledge; it also enhances your ability to communicate, to think critically, and to approach problems creatively.

By adopting the Feynman Technique, you’re not just learning—you’re learning how to learn. Whether you’re a student grappling with new concepts, a professional aiming to master a new skill, or just someone curious about the world, this technique offers a roadmap to clearer understanding and better retention.

Feynman Technique Cheatsheet

Get your free copy for top marks!

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