“If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” – Albert Einstein
In this post you will learn:
- 2 study hacks that will make you a better learner.
- what a Feynman blog is.
So, what’s a Feynman blog?
A “Richard Feynman” study blog is a learning tool.
It is a blank notebook, that I will fill in little by little with chapters and sections from the books, Moocs and research papers I am studying. I will attempt to truly learn the content by explaining it in my posts.
So, who’s Feynman?
Richard Feynman was a giant among physicists, an innovator in many aspects of his profession. You will see some links about the man at the end of this post.
He was an extraordinary teacher and science popularizer, capable of making arcane subjects such as Quantum Physics understandable to everyone.. His creativity in conveying ideas earned him the nickname ‘The Great Explainer’, no less.
He also possessed a non-subatomic level of swagger.
In his path to becoming an erudite in physics, Richard Feynman used the following study hacks. Given the man’s resume, I thought it was a good idea to give them a try.
Feynman Study Hack #1
1. Choose a concept you want to learn about. Read about it.
2. Explain it to a another person. Try to use metaphors and analogies
3. Evaluate the quality of your explanation. If you hesitated, relied on complicated vocabulary or your pupil didn’t understand it, it means YOU YOURSELF don’t understand the concept well enough. Back to the books.
4. Simplify the concept, use analogies and metaphors.
5. Back to trying to explain it!
Once you succeed at making a clear explanation, you will have organically validated your own learning, and gained a deeper understanding of the topic.
Feynman Study Hack #2
1. Choose a topic you want to learn about. Divide it into subtopics.
2. Grab a notebook. On the title page write : “NOTEBOOK OF THINGS I DON’T KNOW ABOUT”
3.Proceed to write the name of each subtopic at top of each page. Some topics you will know something about, some others will not.The challenge is to fill every single page of your notebook.
4. The fact that you have a physical representation of ‘pages you have to fill’ will help increase your motivation to carry out the task. The idea is to tap into your human-embedded need for completion. We humans crave completion. It is one of those benign evolutionary bugs that have helped humanity survive. Most irresponsible cavemen who just left stuff undone probably succumbed to hungry, sable-toothed tigers entering through uncovered hut holes, thus sparing us from those lazy genes.
Ok, ok, you lost me there. What is a Feynman blog , again?
A Feynman blog mixes both Feynman techniques. It is a digital notebook, full of blank pages, with the titles of the books/moocs and research I need to read and thoroughly understand.
Not only do I have to write notes on the topics, but I have to explain them as clearly as possible. I rely on your comments to improve my explanations if you think they are not clear enough.
Your feedback is crucial, for it will help me obtain the necessary knowledge to design world-class learning experiences.
It is almost empty now, but everyday, a new chapter of a book will be ready.
A video on Richard Feynman explaining fire is here .
Cal Newports Blog Post on the Feynman Study Method #2 is here.
Bil Gates on Richard Feynman as a teacher is here