When I struggled with temporal bone radiology, a great quote by Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman came to my rescue: “If you can’t explain something to a first-year student, then you haven’t really understood it.” This quote guided me to simplify and comprehend temporal bone radiology. I further mastered this topic by adopting another of Feynman’s quotes: “If you want to master something, teach it. The more you teach, the better you learn. Teaching is a powerful tool for learning.”
Richard Feynman was a polymath. He made significant contributions in fields like nanotechnology, quantum computing, and particle physics. However, Feynman stands taller among the scientific community not for his scientific achievements, but for his ability to simplify and explain complex scientific concepts. He was such a popular speaker that even Albert Einstein became his graduate student. Bill Gates, inspired by Feynman, called him “the greatest teacher I never had.” Feynman’s method of teaching or communicating complex information using concise thoughts and simple language is known as the Feynman Technique.
The Feynman Technique is a straightforward method for mastering any new or challenging subject. Learning isn’t just about reading a book or memorizing enough to pass an exam. Instead, we truly learn a topic when we can explain it and apply it in various situations. This technique helps us identify and fill our knowledge gaps through deliberate learning, allowing us to recall information when needed. Ultimately, the Feynman Technique transforms information into an easily accessible knowledge bank, helping to avoid unexpected and confusing situations.
The Feynman Technique Involves Four Steps:
Identify the Subject: Start by writing down everything you know about the topic. Add new information as you learn. Using pictures, diagrams, and flow charts can develop a visual memory and enhance learning.
Identify Knowledge Gaps: Real learning occurs when you identify what you don’t know. Search for missing information, as we now have an abundance of resources at our fingertips. Highlighting knowledge gaps helps in organizing thoughts into a coherent story.
Organize and Tell a Story: Organize your notes into a story with precise and concise explanations. Try narrating this story out loud as if you’re teaching a class. If you stumble, it indicates a need for simpler language or more complete understanding. Use analogies, anecdotes, metaphors, and simple sentences to solidify your grasp of the subject.
Teach It to a Child: You master a subject when you can explain it to a child, a layman, or a junior colleague. Simplify your language and explain briefly. As E.F. Schumacher, a German-British statistician and economist, said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.”
Our webinar during the first wave of COVID-19 was a resounding success. The video of this lecture, infused with Feynmannerism, was viewed by over 10,000 people on YouTube within a year! Due to popular demand, we are deconstructing and simplifying the Radiology of the Neck for easy understanding. We will be launching the Radiology Neck Series as a weekly online webinar from January 14th, 2022. Join us in revolutionizing learning methods. Contact me for registration.
With best regards,
Prof. Dr. Prahlada N.B
09 January 2022