Bad at Math? Here's the Secret Formula for Learning

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Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Barbara Oakley, a professor of engineering at Oakland University, explains her secret formula for learning. She speaks with Pimm Fox on "Taking Stock." (Source: Bloomberg)

Tell people about your journey into the world of math.

It didn't start with numbers.

I flunked my way through math and science.

I hated those subjects.

I had no desire.

I love language.

I am listed in the army to study russian.

I learned russian, worked as a russian translator up in the bering sea.

Then i begin realizing while i was having these adventures, -- where i met my husband.

I had to go the end of the earth to meet that man.

I had all these great adventures.

I realized i was not having an adventure in here.

I wasn't experiencing a different perspective.

I realized that if i really want to try, there will be nothing more alien to my personality than learning math and science.

Why don't i give that a try?

At age 26 years old i decided to try and retool my brain.

I'm a professor of engineering now.

If i had known then what i know now it would have been so much easier.

That is why i wrote the book.

Revealed the hands that people can use to be less fearful about learning math and science.

When you look at a math book, what happens is the pain centers of your brain light up.

What you often do is you look at it and there is a very easy way to get away from that.

Put your attention to something else.

Instead of doing that, trick your brain to look, for 25 minutes, work without distraction for 25 minutes on your math.

That allows you to get into the flow without worrying about the task you are working on.

Worrying about the task, looking at something and saying that is the task i have to do is what triggers the pain.

If you trick yourself, and then do that, you can get into the flow.

That is key.

You want to do a little bit every day, not a bunch at once.

You set the timer.

You mention in the book that exercise and sleep are essential for good performance on exams.

Absolutely.

Exercise is one of the few things.

That allows you to learn.

How did those neurons survive?

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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