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Saturday, January 14, 2017

#outofthepagesiread - 3 Steps to Mastering Any Subject

It's been a heck of a hiatus after Christmas and New Year, but now that it's officially 2017, time to get working again, especially on the blog! Maintaining the blogging habit has become even more important to me now since we are expecting the little chick to hatch in about a month or two. If I can (hopefully, desperately, crossing my fingers) maintain this blog even during my maternity, I have better hopes of maintaining and even growing it till my chick grows up. Till then, I will just do what little bit I can!

So I'm starting again with #outofthepagesiread and the article I have chosen is apt for anyone who has a new year resolution to learn something new. 

The original article was published on Quartz and I have included a handy link for it right here. What it describes is the Feynman technique, named after physicist Richard Feynman, and on first read, it seems ridiculously easy. 

In a nutshell...

To learn anything, you would need to do three steps:
1. Teach it to a child
2. Review your learning
3. Organize and simplify
(Don't be lazy, read the original article for more details. It's not that hard, trust me)

Does it work? I tried this method last year when I was learning French on my own. Step 1 seems easy but ho boy, try explaining French verbs in a child-like manner @_@ tres difficile! This took some cracking of brain veins because in order to do this, I had to read the very-adult-jargon-like explanation in my book several times before I could rephrase it to myself as if I was a seven-year-old. The hard part about it is that even when I could do so, I wasn't sure I had explained it correctly after the rephrasing. 

This is a powerful step, to be sure, in understanding any subject, but to be really sure of yourself, I think you would need some kind of mentor or study buddy to make sure that you are on the right track. 

It worked more when I was learning photography though, because that was a concept I was more familiar with. For example, when I was trying to make myself remember the concept of apertures, I imagined the light beaming through small circles and big circles. Putting it in the form of a visual aid that I might have drawn on the whiteboard to a class of kids worked better for this. Also, because I understood what an aperture was and I had seen it many times on my camera, it was easy to rephrase this concept. 

So the key to the first step is understanding. A solid understanding of what you are trying to learn will help you in teaching it to someone who doesn't. If you learning something with a lot of technical jargon, you can try reading a simpler version of it to build your understanding first. Also, you might want to consult someone who is already very knowledgeable about it.

Steps 2 and 3 are much easier and puts me more in mind of how we used to cram for our final exams. Methods may vary, though. I found it easier to put everything on a colourful mind map to see the big picture. Others may prefer other forms of organization. Plus, I realized that I learnt better by writing stuff down on paper while other people may prefer Evernote or other note-taking apps. To each his own in this and you will have to explore a bit to find out what works for you. 

So overall...

I find the method easy to remember and doable. It might work for some subjects better than others, but you should still be able to apply it to most things you want to learn. Good luck with your New Year resolutions! 


I read about this method through Jocelyn K. Glei. She writes about creativity and productivity and she produces a weekly email newsletter with great content. This is a link to her website and you can sign up for the newsletter there too.

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