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A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) Paperback – July 31, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (July 31, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039916524X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399165245
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (254 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A good teacher will leave you educated. But a great teacher will leave you curious. Well, Barbara Oakley is a great teacher. Not only does she have a mind for numbers, she has a way with words, and she makes every one of them count.”
—Mike Rowe, creator and host of Discovery Channel’s "Dirty Jobs" and CEO of mikeroweWORKS

“If you struggled through math and slept through science, there’s hope. In A Mind for Numbers, polymath Barbara Oakley reveals how to unlock the analytic powers of our brains so we can learn how to learn. This book should be required reading for students—and for my mother.”
—Adam Grant, New York Times-bestselling author of Give and Take

"Superb not only for those who are struggling or who are expert at math, but for readers who wish to think and comprehend more efficiently."
Library Journal

“An ingeniously accessible introduction to the science of human cognition—along with practical advice on how to think better.”
—James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal
 
“In my book The Math Instinct, I described how we have known since the early 1990s that all ordinary people can do mathematics, and in The Math Gene, I explained why the capacity for mathematical thinking is both a natural consequence of evolution and yet requires effort to unleash it. What I did not do is show how to tap in to that innate ability. Professor Oakley does just that.”
—Keith Devlin, NPR Weekend Edition’s “Math Guy”

“A wonderful book! How do you come to love math and science, and how do you come to learn math and science? Read A Mind for Numbers. Barbara Oakley is the magician who will help you do both.”
—Francisco J. Ayala, University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine, and former President and Chairman of the Board, American Association for the Advancement of Science

“Being good at science and mathematics isn’t just something you are; it’s something you become. This users’ guide to the brain unmasks the mystery around achieving success in mathematics and science. I have seen far too many students opt out when they hit a rough patch. But now that learners have a handy guide for ‘knowing better’ they will also be able to ‘do better.’”
—Shirley Malcom, Head of Education and Human Resources Programs, American Association for the Advancement of Science
 
A Mind for Numbers is an excellent book about how to approach mathematics, science, or any realm where problem solving plays a prominent role.” 
—J. Michael Shaughnessy, Past President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
 
“I have not been this excited about a book in a long time. Giving students deep knowledge on how to learn will lead to higher retention and student success in every field. It is a gift that will last them a lifetime.”
—Robert R Gamache, Ph.D., Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and International Relations, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
 
A Mind for Numbers helps put students in the driver’s seat—empowering them to learn more deeply and easily. This outstanding book is also a useful resource for instructional leaders. Given the urgent need for America to improve its science and math education so it can stay competitive, A Mind for Numbers is a welcome find.”
—Geoffrey Canada, President, Harlem Children's Zone
 
"It's easy to say 'work smarter, not harder,' but Barbara Oakley actually shows you how to do just that, in a fast-paced and accessible book that collects tips based on experience and sound science.  In fact, I'm going to incorporate some of these tips into my own teaching."  
—Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law, The University of Tennessee
 
A Mind for Numbers is a splendid resource for how to approach mathematics learning and in fact learning in any area. Barbara Oakley’s authoritative guide is based on the latest research in the cognitive sciences, and provides a clear, concise, and entertaining roadmap for how to get the most out of learning. This is a must-read for anyone who has struggled with mathematics and anyone interested in enhancing their learning experience.”
—David C. Geary, Curators’ Professor of Psychological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience, University of Missouri
 
“For students afraid of math and science and for those who love the subjects, this engaging book provides guidance in establishing study habits that take advantage of how the brain works.”
—Deborah Schifter, Principal Research Scientist, Science and Mathematics Programs, Education Development Center, Inc.

“A Mind for Numbers explains the process of learning in a fascinating and utterly memorable way. This book is a classic, not only for learners of all ages, but for teachers of all kinds.”
—Frances R. Spielhagen, Ph.D., Director, Center for Adolescent Research and Development, Mount Saint Mary College

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.
 

Customer Reviews

I recommend this book for every high school and college student.
kidsyphilis
Great course and great book with very helpful concepts for studying and learning new concepts in a manner that makes use of the brain's inherent abilities.
Vicky
This is less a book about excelling and math and science and more a book about learning in general.
Renee Holt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 101 people found the following review helpful By B.L. on August 1, 2014
Format: Paperback
I think that this book potentially has a lot of value to offer to the reader. I came to it as someone who's going to be taking some fairly high level math/science courses in the near future, and I've been working on refreshing my mind on the subject matter and updating some of my thoughts on study techniques in hopes of making the transition a smooth one. I've been looking at a lot of materials for this, and also for some other learning-related projects I've done over the past year.

Because of that background, a fair bit of what came up in this book was familiar. Some of the historical anecdotes have popped up in other books, like Moonwalking With Einstein. The author really isn't pretending to have invented everything she's talking about, because she makes reference to research results and has endnotes leading to more information. I don't think that this takes away all of the value of the book, though, because it's a compilation of bits of information you could otherwise gather in many different places. Basically, you're spending a few dollars to have someone sum it and try to put it into a sensible order for you.

I think the target market here includes fairly sophisticated high school students, but it's overall more suitable for adults who are already reasonably educated. The author is currently running a free course (there's a paid certificate, but that's optional) through Coursera called "Learning How to Learn" where it basically says that the book and course were designed to go together. That seems about right to me, because most of the people who participate in Coursera courses regularly are those who have at least some college background.

My feeling is that there's enough value in here to quite easily justify buying and reading it.
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83 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Jacob McElroy on October 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
For such a low price, this book, " A Mind For Numbers ", cannot be missed. This book contains extremely useful information regarding how the human brain works, why we forget the simplest information, and how to improve our math or science. Not only have I read it twice, but I have passed it to my husband as well, who is completely fascinated by it.

This book contains information that, as a teacher, I never knew before. For example, I never knew that the human brain contains more than 100 billion neurons. What a fascinating fact! As humans, we don't fully understand how complex the human brain is; instead, we take it for granted and just assume that it can't be altered or changed in any way. Each and every one of us has the ability to retain and store information, if we correctly understand how the function works. This book explains it all, in very simple terms and engaging facts.

What I enjoy most about this book is the incorporation of modern day technology into training our brains to remember better. Stuff like internet games, video watching, exercise and mediation can all help us to improve and enhance our memory. It provides simple and straight forward techniques in order to ensure maximum success at memorization, both short term and long. This is similar to another book I picked up recently, entitled, "Maximizing Brain Control : Unleash The Genius In You". Both of these books combined have contributed to my success in memorization. We all struggle with remembering important things, such as picking up a container of milk after work. We can't just simply use the excuse of, "I forgot", because we are capable of so much more.
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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful By John Bartelt on July 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
“How to excel at stuff” books have always clogged the self-help shelves. They usually contain five or ten logical thoughts that have been bloated into a full book.

On very rare occasion, however, something comes along that’s “the real deal”, that contains no “filler”, that actually, truly, and tangibly boosts our learning abilities and human potential; that shows us how to think with a razor-sharp mind; that offers us a clarity that we should know but that nobody ever teaches us directly. This is it.

This book beautifully and brilliantly outlines strategies, and presents practical and easy-to-understand mental tools that really work, to literally rewire the brain for a rich and comprehensive understanding - not only of math and science, as the title would suggest, but of any content - through approaches more creative and effective than anything I’ve seen anywhere. It is engaging to read, worth its weight in gold, and has certainly sharpened the way I approach thinking optimally and solving problems.

Full disclosure: Although I have never met the author in person, I was fortunate enough to have been contacted by her and sent an early draft of this work for review and feedback. I recognized immediately that this work was not only significant and meaningful, but also incredibly well put together, and deserving of a place on the bookshelf of anyone with a serious interest in learning theory, education, psychology, andragogy, or just plain self-improvement. The final published version is even more powerful and masterfully crafted. I plan to re-read and re-absorb its invaluable lessons periodically.

This book is the real deal.
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More About the Author

I work at Oakland University as a professor of engineering. I started studying engineering much later than many engineering students, because my original intention had been to become a linguist. I enlisted in the U.S. Army right after high school and spent a year studying Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey California. The Army eventually sent me to the University of Washington, where I received my first degree'a B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature. Eventually, I served four years in Germany as a Signal Officer, and rose to become a Captain.

After my Army commitment ended, I decided to leave the Army and study engineering so that I could better understand the communications equipment I had been working with. Five years later I received a second degree: a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. In the meantime, I worked several fishing seasons as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers up in the Bering Sea. I wrote a book about that experience in 'Hair of the Dog: Tales from a Russian Trawler.' I also spent a season as the radio operator at the South Pole Station, where Philip and I met. (We were married as soon as we got 'off the ice,' in New Zealand.) With the B.S.E.E. degree in hand I settled down and spent three years working as a instrumentation and controls engineer at a laser research and development firm near Seattle.

We moved to the Detroit area in 1989. I worked for Ford briefly, and then began doing consulting and attending Oakland University part time while our children were small. I received a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1995, and a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering in 1998. I was hired after my graduation to continue on as a professor at Oakland University.

Since then, I've become interested in learning about people and places using an out-side-the box perspective--as you can tell from my books. I feel compelled to explore ideas and concepts in writing--thank goodness I have a family that's forgiving of my compulsion!

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