What do you really know about a subject or topic? You can easily test yourself, and expose your gaps. When you fill in the gaps, you take what you know deeper.
You internalize it.
It’s a process of mastering the fundamentals.
In the book, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird show us how to test what we know and take it deeper.
Test what you know by writing an outline. Burger and Starbird write:
“Do you or don’t you truly know the basics? Consider a subject you think you know or a subject you are trying to master. Open a blank document on your computer. Without referring to any outside sources, write a detailed outline of the fundamentals of the subject. “
Check Your Outline
How deep did you go? Burger and Starbird write:
“Can you write a coherent, accurate, and comprehensive description on the foundations of the subject, or does your knowledge have gaps? Do you struggle to think of core examples? Do you struggle to see the overall big picture that puts the pieces together?”
Compare It to Available Information
How does you outline stand up compared to other sources? Burger and Starbird write:
“Now, compare your effort to external sources (texts, Internet, experts, your boss.) When you discover weaknesses in your own understanding of the basics, take action. Methodically learn the fundamentals. Thoroughly understand any gap fill in as well as its surrounding territory. Make these new insights part of your base knowledge and connect them with the parts you already understood.”
Return to the Basics
The basics take you deeper. Burger and Starbird write:
“Repeat this exercise regularly as you learn more advanced aspects of the subject (and save your earlier attempts so that you can look back and see how far you’ve traveled). Every return to the basics will deepen your understanding of the entire subject.”
It’s all about the fundamentals.
So, what do you know about the your favorite subject?
Go test yourself.
Image by Eneas.