How I Used the Feynman Technique to Self Study Math
I believe learning by explaining, called the Feynman technique, is the best way to learn. Preparing an explanation forces you to deal with the inconsistencies in your logic, and improve your understanding.
Ideally, I would explain to a real person every day, but people aren’t available 24/7.
The solution I’ve found is to write a blog post explaining a topic I’ve learned. This post isn’t meant for public consumption and is honestly rather chaotic most of the time. But being forced the write it every day is a great way to practice the Feynman technique, and deepen your understanding of topics you’ve learned.
The main advantage is that it takes considerably less effort to explain something you’ve already learned than explain something new. So doing it every day is not unreasonable.
I’ve been practising this technique every day since the start of 2022.
Here is a repository of what I’ve written so far: Jan 2nd, Jan 3rd, Jan 4th, Jan 5th, Jan 6th, Jan 7th, Jan 8th, Jan 9th, Jan 10th, Jan 11th, Jan 12th, Jan 13th, Jan 14th, Jan 15th, Jan 16th, Jan 17th, Jan 18th, Jan 19th, Jan 20th, Jan 21st, Jan 22nd, Jan 23rd, Jan 24th, Jan 25th, Jan 26th, Jan 27th, Jan 28th, Jan 29th, Jan 30th, Jan 31st, Feb 1st, Feb 2nd, Feb 3rd, Feb 4th, Feb 5th, Feb 6th, Feb 7th, Feb 8th, Feb 9th, Feb 10th, Feb 11th, Feb 12th, Feb 13th, Feb 14th,
I’ve also went and created a graphic with the number of words I wrote on every day.
Some fun stats:
- On average I write 700 words per day.
- On Jan 7th I wrote 3000 words.
- I say “tensor” 43 times.
- I wrote nearly 20 000 words so far.
There’s a lot of fun data in here, and if you want to play with it, feel free to download it here:
I feel it’s also a good idea to pair this pseudo blog writing technique with actually setting up calls with friends and explaining to them. For example, I have a call set up with a friend of mine every week where we discuss whatever math topic is on our minds. I use this call as an opportunity to present my explanations to him and get his feedback.
Again, the main advantage here is sustainability. I’m cautiously optimistic I can keep on doing this all year, and in the process gain a tremendous amount of knowledge.
The best part is that its genuine knowledge, not material you memorized in preparation for a test, and forget it all after.
This effort pairs with the Feynman Mafia, a community where people use the Feynman technique to learn advanced math & physics. If you’re looking for a partner to explain to, I’d strongly recommend joining.