Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman stumbled on a three-step formula to learn any new subject faster and on a deeper level.
As Steven Pinker talks about here, Richard Feynman cautions about the things we know and the words we know to describe things. Only because you know the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it.
You can say that the bird in the tree is a Blue Jay. You may know that fact but you don’t know much about it like where it lives, how it migrates, what its calls sound like?
So here’s his technique:
1. Be able to teach it to an 8 year old
Write down the topic you are trying to learn. Now try to get through it as if you had to explain it to an eight year old child. This forces you to use simple words which forces you to understand the concept at a deeper level and simplify relationships and connections between ideas.
2. Find the knowledge gaps
Step one will teach you where the knowledge gaps are. Now dive into those gaps to complete the picture. My daughter once stopped me in a story and asked me why the sky is blue. An information gap I thought I understood.
3. Organize and simplify
You now should have a complete explanation that an 8 year old could understand. Now simplify it, and read it out loud.
That’s it, give it a try ne
Also published on Medium.