Today I taught kids how to learn anything using the infamous Feynman method. For those of you who don’t know, Richard Feynman was an American genius who worked on the Atomic bomb. He said that he could learn anything if he followed these simple steps:
1. Read the material. Then read it again. Then read it again. Then read it again.
2. Now find the stupidest person you know, (but DON’T tell them that they are the stupidest person you know because that will get you into trouble–I have learned this the hard way many times) and try to teach them the material in simple straight-forward language. If a stupid person is unavailable try using a toddler or a highly intelligent animal such as a pig or a monkey (My neighbor has a pig that I can talk to through the fence). DOGS DO NOT WORK.
3. Don’t use big words or too many words. Speak slowly and loudly as if your student is not only retarded (or a toddler or a pig), but deaf and still learning English.
4. While you are doing this look deeply into his eyes. When you notice him space out or lose interest then you are probably making things too complicated or confusing. This means that you don’t understand the material as well as you thought you did.
5. Now go back and study the material again until you can teach it to a pig* (or a retarded deaf immigrant) without losing him.
*Recently I was able to hold the attention of my pig for 90 seconds while explaining the hypocrisy of the class system in Jane Austin. He walked away when I started in about Aunt Betram in Mansfield Park, which frankly is an understandable reaction even if he did understand.
Remember, it is in teaching others that we learn about ourselves!