Learn More by Teaching
There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Albert Einstein which goes:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Accelerated Learning Techniques
From a neurological perspective, there are few things that are better for the development of true intelligence than to learn multiple subjects. This encourages the use of multiple brain areas and by learning lots of different subjects you can use them together – thereby enhancing the inter connectivity of your brain.
Learning itself triggers the release of dopamine, BDNF and other neurotransmitters that enhance plasticity – meaning that the more we learn, the easier learning becomes.
And having multiple skills means we can thrive in multiple different situations.
And if you want to learn more, faster, then you only need apply a range of ‘accelerated learning’ techniques. Here are some of the best…
The Feynman Technique
The Feynman Technique is a mental model named for Richard Feynman. The aim is to learn and to increase your depth of knowledge by making sure you can teach someone else the subject. The idea is that if you can’t explain a subject simply, you don’t fully understand it.
(Note: I never truly understood calculus until I had to teach it.)
To this end, Feynman suggests a flow chart of 4 steps.
Start with the concept and then ‘explain like I’m five’ (ELI5). This is used when you want someone to explain something in the simplest way possible.
By attempting to explain a concept in simple terms:
1. You’ll know if you have a good understanding of that concept. If you do it will be easy to explain in very simple terms.
2. You’ll also identify your problem areas. These will be the areas where you get stuck and can’t seem to use simple ideas.
Then try using an analogy to explain the concept. (Tap into the way we understand the world – using embodied cognition) and then simplify that concept.
Embodied cognition is the idea that the body influences the mind. We can act out a story, use a hands on approach such as manipulating a model.
Here are Feynman’s 4 steps.
1. Pick a topic you want to understand and start studying it. Write down everything you know about the topic on a notebook page.
2. Pretend to teach your topic to a friend or a class. Make sure you’re able to explain the topic in simple terms. Focus on using plain, understandable language.
3. Identify the areas where you are shaky or don’t understand. When you can only use complicated language you don’t understand it. Study the topic when you get stuck. Revisit problem areas until you can explain it in very simple terms.
4. Simplify and use analogies. You should be able to explain it to someone without any knowledge of the subject so that they understand it.
Again explain like you are explaining the concept to a 5 year old child.
Remember KISS – Keep it simple stupid.
Here is a definition of affiliate marketing:
Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.
I know what affiliate marketing is and this definition is even hard for me to understand.
Let’s apply the Feynman Technique.
1. Study it and write down everything you know about it. Go to the Work From Home tab of this website to learn about affiliate marketing.
2. Explain it. Affiliate marketing is when you sell someone else’s product for them and they give you a commission for selling it.
3. Identify problems areas. Define commission. Define how you sell for them. A commission is when you get paid for selling something that you sell but do not own.
4. Example – John has a bike he wants to sell. He tells you he will give you $10 if you can get someone to buy it for $100. You know Travis who would like a new bike and you put him in touch with John. If he buys the bike John gives you $10.
You don’t have to collect the money or talk Travis into buying you just put the two people in touch with each other. That is affiliate marketing explained to a 5 year old.
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Workweek has a different method for learning subjects more quickly. He calls this the DiSSS method.
The phrase is of course an acronym, which stands for:
- Deconstructing (what are the minimal learnable units?)
- Interviewing (asking people who have already mastered the skill)
- Reversal (looking at the end goal – for instance, Tim recommends learning finishing moves first in chess and then working backwards to learn how to get to that point)
- Selection (which 20% of the minimal blocks should I focus attention on?)
- Sequencing (what is the best order to learn said blocks in?)
- Stakes (how can you set up stakes to motivate yourself to keep learning)
The First 20 Hours
The First 20 Hours is a book by Josh Kaufman, that explains an alternative accelerated learning method. The central concept is to aim for a ‘target performance level’ or more specifically, to know what you want to achieve through learning.
In particular, if you want to learn to code, then don’t set out to ‘learn to code’ which is much too vague, but instead set out to create a specific goal. Not only is this much more intrinsically motivating with more of an emotional drive, but it also gives you much more structure and it shows you precisely which skills you need to develop.
Combine these methods with adequate interest and with strategies to increase brain plasticity and you can rapidly accelerate your learning and become a far more formidable mind.