An image from the article How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math by Barbara Oakley


Memory and learning go hand-in-hand. You may understand a concept when you first hear it, but if you don’t memorise it you won’t be able to recall it when it’s needed.

Barbara Oakley is a professor of engineering and runs one of the biggest online courses in the world — Learning How to Learn. You might expect that a professor of engineering would have grown up as a maths prodigy — engineering is hugely mathematic (I studied maths at university and yet my engineer friends do a lot more maths than I do!). But Barbara Oakley’s story is very different — she didn’t learn any complex maths until she was into her late twenties.

I think Oakley’s account of her journey to maths fluency is incredibly inspirational — it just goes to show what’s possible when you have the right mindset. We aren’t destined to be bad at something just because we can’t do it now — it’s always possible to learn.