Feynman’s technique to effective learning

effective learning

I thought of starting the article by first telling what effective learning is, but that is just too boring.

Since I was a kid, I have been a reader, thanks to one of my friends who introduced me to the world of books & taught me to talk to the characters. While in school, it started with the famous five, Archies, champak and more. As I grew my language got better and so did my taste in literature.

However, now I see things changing. I do not read as many books as I earlier did. I concentrate more on quality than quality. I have a cupboard full of books, but I haven’t read them all. I skip buying books in stores, but my Kindle is overflowing, but every time I pick a book, I do not end up reading fully.

For many books, I have led the first 4% some 50 times, but never the whole book,

This attitude has made me think too much about my reading habits & whether it is the right way to approach it. Maybe I need to train my muscle memory.

Reading better

In my quest to find the right answers, I came across Feynman’s technique of reading.

In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.

Charlie Munger

Reading is not just a habit, it is a lifestyle that allows you to master the best of what other people have figured out this is true if you can remember and apply these lessons in real life.

Feyaman’s Reading technique

The four key steps to the Feynman Technique for effective learning are:

  1. Choose a concept you want to learn about
  2. Explain it to a 12 year old
  3. Reflect, Refine, and Simplify
  4. Organize and Review

A physicist who won the Nobel Prize, Richar Feynman was known for his capacity to communicate hard ideas to others in simple terms which was his true strength. Jargon, ambiguous words, and intricacy, he understood, reflect a lack of understanding.

Feynman always believed that there was a stark difference between understanding something and knowing something, which actually defines your success. He believed in the power of understanding and not just knowing, which gave birth to his reading technique.

Choose a concept

It is first important to pick a topic you are interested in learning.

Now take a blank sheet of paper and write down all that you know about the subject. As you learn more about the subject add more details to its sheet of paper. Many people also use colourful pens to track their learning progress.

Explain to a 12-year-old

Feynman always believed that if you want to test your knowledge about something, try explaining it to a 12-year-old kid. Using your sheet, remove all the jargon and heavy words and in simple language explain all that you know to a kid.

Anyone can make a subject complicated but only someone who understands can make it simple.

As a physicist, he too went to public conferences to help non-physicist understand his discoveries. He believed that jargons only make things complicated and hamper your learning progress.

This process will help you understand where you lack, and what you must work on.

Reflect, Refine, and Simplify

Simple is beautiful, so try to make your notes as simple, clear and crisp that even if it is read by a child they can understand them. If the explanation is not clear or you seem confused, work on it again and repeat until you have s simple explanation.

Organize yourself

Once you have tried to simplify your notes, run it by someone else and see how the real world perceives you. See what questions they have, and what elements confuse them and you will have learning that you are ready to share with the world.


Everyone today poses themselves as experts, but only some can take complex topics and communicate to the audience. The above Feynman effective learning strategy will assist you to avoid being duped by others.