A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) (Paperback)

How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)

By Barbara Oakley

Tarcher, 9780399165245, 316pp.

Publication Date: July 31, 2014



The companion book to COURSERA(R)'s wildly popular massive open online course "Learning How to Learn"

Whether you are a student struggling to fulfill a math or science requirement, or you are embarking on a career change that requires a new skill set, A Mind for Numbers offers the tools you need to get a better grasp of that intimidating material. Engineering professor Barbara Oakley knows firsthand how it feels to struggle with math. She flunked her way through high school math and science courses, before enlisting in the army immediately after graduation. When she saw how her lack of mathematical and technical savvy severely limited her options--both to rise in the military and to explore other careers--she returned to school with a newfound determination to re-tool her brain to master the very subjects that had given her so much trouble throughout her entire life.

In A Mind for Numbers, Dr. Oakley lets us in on the secrets to learning effectively--secrets that even dedicated and successful students wish they'd known earlier. Contrary to popular belief, math requires creative, as well as analytical, thinking. Most people think that there's only one way to do a problem, when in actuality, there are often a number of different solutions--you just need the creativity to see them. For example, there are more than three hundred different known proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. In short, studying a problem in a laser-focused way until you reach a solution is not an effective way to learn. Rather, it involves taking the time to step away from a problem and allow the more relaxed and creative part of the brain to take over. The learning strategies in this book apply not only to math and science, but to any subject in which we struggle. We all have what it takes to excel in areas that don't seem to come naturally to us at first, and learning them does not have to be as painful as we might think.

About the Author

Barbara Oakley is a professor of engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She has received many awards for her teaching, including the coveted National Science Foundation New Century Scholar Award.

Praise For A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)

Praise for Evil Genes:

“A fascinating scientific and personal exploration of the roots of evil, filled with human insight and telling detail.”
—Steven Pinker, author The Better Angels of Our Nature and How the Mind Works

Praise for Cold-Blooded Kindness:

"Riveting and disturbing…. Barbara Oakley is to be commended upon looking so hard, and so closely, at the motives, in some, that underlie acts of 'kindness' and 'altruism'—suggesting that things are not always as they appear, and the phrase 'killed with kindness' springs from the absolute bedrock of folk wisdom."
—Joyce Carol Oates, National Book Award winner

Praise for Pathological Altruism:

"What a wonderful book! This is one of the few books in evolutionary biology I've read in the past ten years that taught me something completely new."
—Edward O.  Wilson, Pulitzer Prize Winner and Pellegrino University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

"This unique volume manages the impressive feat of pulling together the best research from psychology, genetics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and law on well-meaning but ultimately harmful forms of self-sacrifice. It will forever change the way you look at altruism."
—Sharon Begley, Science Editor, Newsweek, and author of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain