A Thought Experiment Method I’ve Found Helpful

Whenever I want to test my knowledge of a subject, I’ve started using the following thought experiment:

I imagine myself to be designing the syllabus for a course on the topic. I imagine my audience to be high school students with a similar background to my own. I run through, in my head, the way the course would go, what questions they would ask, how I would introduce the topic, how I would make it interesting for them, what homework I would assign, etc.

I first started using this thought experiment with History and Philosophy. Now that I’m learning German, I imagine how I would go about teaching a German course. It’s a really good way to get an assessment of your knowledge of a topic, and it can help you see things about a topic that you’ve never seen before.

I believe that if you can’t explain something from the ground up you don’t know it. I try to hold myself to that standard for every subject.

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