How to Use the Feynman Technique

Does anyone use the Feynman Technique? It keeps coming up in discussions, and I use similar techniques all the time, so I wanted to start a thread about it.

Basically, when learning new material, try to explain it to an imaginary student. Paraphrase the material without looking at the book. Being able to explain something is a sign that you understand it. It also uses active recall, which seems to help create memories.

Has anyone here tried it, and what do you think about it?

Here is a short video for people who haven’t encountered the technique before:

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I have tried it, and it is my go-to method (or at least something similar to it) if I am short on time. If I am not however, I go as step further. No imaginary teaching, but imaginary discussing. By discussing a subject you start looking critically at it, which helps remembering it more than when you just teach it. The downside of it being that it is sometimes really hard to argue about something with yourself if you can’t distance yourself from a point of view you own.

To solve that, I go inbetween teaching and discussing, by having an imaginary talk with the young Mayarra. Kids can ask more than adults can answer, by reaching out to the child-part of my personality, I can ask myself questions by ‘looking through the eyes of a kid’.

That helps in thinking about it, but also in explaining it simply. If you can explain something in a simple way, you think about it differently. In words attributed to Albert Einstein, but most likely said by Richard Feynman or Ernest Rutherford (people can’t agree on who it was):
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough

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That’s interesting. I sometimes have mental conversations with my previous and future selves, but haven’t used it for learning material. I will try that. :slight_smile:

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I haven’t tried it per se, but I have had a lot of experience explaining concepts to fellow students struggling to understand subjects from school to university.

Every time I explained it to someone I found myself understanding it better because in creating a simpler explanation for my peer I had cleaned up my internal representation.

It was like focused revision and I feel it really helped me gain a better understanding.

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I can relate to the remarks of Mayara. I also use explaining and internally discussing. It was probably the first learning technique I learned. It is especialy usefull for understanding, but it also helps memorization.

I am a teacher now I and I am surprised how I still learn from this method. It could be a subject that I already taught more than ten times. And still I can learn new things from explaining. Explaining in real life has the advantage of surprising questions that people will ask you.

I think it would be possible to combine this with the memory journey method. First you focus on understanding and explaining. Then improve the examples and the graphic analogies. When your story is complete you can store it in a palace.

Thanks Josh for sharing this. I am sharing learning techniques with my students, but I completly forgot this one. Will add this to my lessons.

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