Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.
For this week’s installation in the Study Help Saga (a series where I make posts to help students achieve the best grades possible), I want to go over a technique that I very, very frequently used when I was studying for the Leaving Cert (university matriculation exams).
This technique is called the Feynman technique.
What is it? 🤔
Coined by the great physicist Richard Feynman, the Feynman technique is used to help understand, or to wrap your head around very complex or difficult-to-understand concepts.
My philosophy with learning and studying, is that it’s always best to first try understand something, rather than brute force memorise it. I feel if I can understand something well, memorisation comes extremely easily.
And so this is where the Feynman technique comes in.
🤷🏻♂️How to use It?🤷🏻♂️
The basic premise of this technique is that you’re imagining yourself explaining this concept to an inquisitive 10 year old child. You know, around the age range that has them always asking questions.
As you keep trying to explain the concept to them, you’ll no doubt keep facing more and more basic “What’s a __?” or “Why does ___?” questions during your explanation, which forces you to explain those basics first. And once you stumble upon a question that you suddenly can’t answer, that’s when you’ve identified the problem area with which you’re struggling with, and can thus focus on understanding.
Let’s say for example, I’m trying to revise physics, and this is my definition for refraction:
“Refraction is the bending of light as it passes through one medium to another of different refractive index”.
These are some of the questions I can immediately imagine a kid asking :
‘How can light bend?’
‘What’s a medium?’
‘What’s a refractive index?’
‘How can refractive indexes be different?’
I would then focus on explaining all these questions in a way that even a small child could understand.
The basic concept of this method is if you aren’t able to explain it in your own words, then you don’t understand it well enough. And this technique is by far the best way to make sure you understand something.