Richard Feynman’s learning techniques

I deeply respect Dr. Richard Feynman for the profound effect his publications had on modern physics, especially in the field of electrodynamics. Even more intriguing are his amazing accomplishments and extremely clear basics, due to exceptionally strong fundamentals. His learning techniques are widely publicized, from the Blank Paper method to him winning the Putnam contest by the greatest margin ever witnessed in history. Recently, I came across a short interview of Dr. Feynman and gathered the following techniques :

  • Translate everything you read in your mind. Attempt to visualize it vividly in reality.
  • Always remember the difference between knowing the name of something vs. knowing something.
  • Once you have uncovered the fundamentals for a topic, never compromise on them.
  • Dr. Feynman was particularly proud of deciding his path early in life. He focused himself in the disciplines of mathematics and physics early on in life.
  • The most striking aspect of his nature was an endless curiosity and an ‘ability to play with problems‘. He used to love solving problems, and would do so for the sheer fun of doing it. This is a deep insight about his nature of excellence and sustaining passion.
  • According to Dr. Feynman, “The prize is the pleasure of finding things out, the kick of the discovery and observing other people use these discoveries!”. It is remarked that when he was informed about being awarded the Nobel prize, he slammed down the phone because he thought it was baloney, being as it was at 2 in night.


Apart from these observations about the nature of mastery and excellence, I have also noticed the following points:

  1. Live the content that you are trying to learn. Breathe it, feel it and understand it thoroughly. Try to be what you are trying to understand.
  2. Think that what you are learning is critical to your survival. Imagine as if your brain actively tries to fight back to keep the content from sticking to it!
  3. Concentration and chunking concepts greatly helps one to quickly master any material.
  4. Increase brain activity! As more and more neurons fire, learning and relating concepts becomes easier. Top techniques to do include exercise and sleeping well.

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