The Digest #55

Published on January 6, 2021

Richard Feynman has been dead for over three decades but his ideas live on through his books, lectures, and the @ProfFeynman twitter account that is followed by over half a million people. 

The following tweet struck a chord with me when I read it this morning:

Great teachers view their work as more of a calling than a job and their enthusiasm is often infectious. It is impossible to fake true enthusiasm and students recognize it when they see it. It is hard to get excited about any topic when the person communicating the knowledge is dull, bored, and just going through the motions. Feynman exuded enthusiasm for physics and, more broadly, an investigation of how the world works.

Much of life is random. The subjects that captivate a particular student might arise from some innate curiosity but I think that more often it comes from the influence of those we admire and respect. When you were going through school, which teachers were the most interesting? Who had the most enthusiasm and treated their profession as a calling rather than a job? 

By definition, most teachers are average. This was certainly the case when I was going through school. And many were below average and seemed tediously boring. In my case, the exception was a high school teacher who made business and investing seem exciting. I didn’t have Professor Feynman as a physics teacher and science was boring to me. The same was true for literature, history, and countless other subjects. But not business and investing because I had a happy teacher who made his subject interesting.

Would I have decided to study business and investing if the “happy teacher” I encountered in high school had taught physics or literature or history? I do not know the answer to that question, but I suspect that I might have gone into some other subject. That is the power of a happy teacher. 

Check out the following video if you aren’t familiar with Richard Feynman or read this article on the Feynman Technique for learning any subject.

Richard Feynman taught us that learning is a lifelong process. It turns out that many of the subjects that I found boring in high school are actually exciting. I just never realized it at the time because a teacher failed to make it interesting to a teenager’s mind. We are fortunate to have instant access to the best minds in the world today, including the happy teachers who make their work available at no cost.

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The Digest #55
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