Notes on “A Mind for Numbers”

A Mind for Numbers. Barbara Oakley. 2014.

Reshaping your brain is under your control. The key is patient persistence – working knowledgeably with your brain’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Law of Serendipity: Lady Luck favors the one who tries

This book was awesome.

Ten Rules of Good Studying:

  1. Use recall
  2. Test yourself
  3. Chunk your problems
  4. Space your repetition
  5. Alternate difference problem-solving techniques during your practice
  6. Take breaks
  7. Use explanatory questioning and simple analogies
  8. Focus
  9. Eat your frogs first
  10. Make a mental contrast

Ten Rules of BAD Studying:

  1. Passive rereading
  2. Letting highlights overwhelm you
  3. Merely glancing at a problem’s solution and thinking you know how to do it
  4. Waiting until the last minute to study
  5. Repeatedly solving problems of the same type that you already know how to solve
  6. Letting study session with friends turn into chat sessions
  7. Neglecting to read the textbook before you start working problems
  8. Not checking with your instructors or class mates to clear up points of confusion
  9. Thinking you can learn deeply when you are being constantly distracted
  10. Not getting enough sleep!

Build a powerful chunk:

  1. Work a key problem all the way through on paper.
  2. Do another repetition of the problem, paying attention to the key processes.
  3. Take a break!
  4. Work on the problem again before you go to sleep
  5. Do another repetition ASAP the next day
  6. Add a new problem
  7. Think about the problem while you’re doing something else

Table of Contents:

  1. Open the Door
  2. Easy Does It: Why Trying Too Hard Can Sometimes Be Part of the Problem
  3. Learning Is Creating: Lessons from Thomas Edison’s Frying Pan
  4. Chunking and Avoiding Illusions of Competence: The Keys to Becoming an “Equation Whisperer”
  5. Preventing Procrastination: Enlisting Your Habits (“Zombies”) as Helpers
  6. Zombies Everywhere: Digging Deeper to Understand the Habit of Procrastination
  7. Chunking versus Choking: How to Increase Your Expertise and Reduce Anxiety
  8. Tools, Tips, and Tricks
  9. Procrastination Zombie Wrap-Up
  10. Enhancing Your Memory
  11. More Memory Tips
  12. Learning to Appreciate Your Talent
  13. Sculpting Your Brain
  14. Developing the Mind’s Eye through Equation Poems
  15. Renaissance Learning
  16. Avoiding Overconfidence: The Power of Teamwork
  17. Test Taking
  18. Unlock Your Potential