The Duck Technique

There are a lot of techniques and tricks you can use when trying to understand and retain information. A lot of people like to use the Richard Feynman Technique due to the effectiveness of how it works.

The technique involves four steps: choosing a concept, explaining it in simple terms as if to a child, identifying gaps in your own understanding during the explanation, and then reviewing and simplifying the explanation further. This technique is based on the principle that teaching a concept in simple terms indicates a deep understanding of it.

I would say The Duck Technique is a variation of Richard Feynman Technique. I definitely didn’t create the Duck Technique or even know the real name, but this is what I call the technique.

The technique works by having a duck or any object (pencil, picture, or mouse) and talking to the duck about what you are working on. You are not trying to teach anything like in the Feynman Technique, but you are just trying to make sense of your ideas.

I use the Duck Technique all the time when I am coding. Usually, I am trying to figure out the logic to making a feature of a web app. For example, how do I make a leaderboard of all the users scores. My talking to the duck would look like:

I need to get all the user data for the binary event. The users data will be an array with objects as the elements. Each element will be one of the user. Do I need to create a new array of just the scores? Or do I need to just use the original data from the database and use dot notion?

There would be way more of me talking to the duck, but you can see I am trying to figure out the logic on how I would create the leaderboard. I always find it useful when I talk to the duck!

The hearing yourself talk and trying to work out what you are doing is what makes this technique so useful. You are taking time to get your ideas straight and seeing if you even make sense. There have been times where I have been just writing code then look back at what I wrote and wondering how in the world I just wrote that trash code!

No worder why the code I write doesn’t work sometimes haha The duck technique does take time to get use to since you have to take a moment to pause on what you doing and reflect on what you are doing.

It is easy to just be in work mode and try to get things done because you are sick and tired of working on the material. I have been there many times with coding. It is not fun being stuck or not understanding a topic.

Try the Duck Technique out and let me know how it goes! Go find yourself a duck to talk to today!

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