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دوره: ذهنی برای اعداد / درس 20

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afterword

David B. Daniel, Ph.D.

Professor, Psychology Department

James Madison University

My eighth-grade math and science teacher had a powerful impact on my life. He plucked me from the back of the class and motivated me to strive for excellence. I repaid him in high school by getting a D in geometry—twice. I just couldn’t get the material on my own, and I didn’t have the luxury of a great teacher to prod me in the ways I needed. Eventually, in college, I figured it out. But it was a frustrating journey. I wish I’d had a book like this back then.

Flash forward a decade and a half. My daughter turned math homework into a form of torture Dante would be too shy to write about. She would hit a wall and then hit it again and again. When she finally finished crying, she would circle around and eventually figure it out. But I could never get her to just back off and regroup without the drama. I let her read this book. The first thing she said was, “I wish I’d had this book when I was in school!” There has long been a stream of potentially productive study advice coming from scientists. Unfortunately, it has seldom been translated so the average student can easily grasp and use it. Not every scientist has a knack for translation, and not every writer has a firm grasp of the science. In this book, Barbara Oakley threaded this needle beautifully. Her use of vivid examples and explanations of the strategies reveals not only how useful but how credible these ideas are. When I asked my daughter why she liked the advice in the book, even though I had mentioned several of the techniques to her when she was in middle school, she said, “She tells you why and it makes sense.” Another hit to my parental ego!

Now that you have read this book, you have been exposed to some simple yet potentially powerful strategies—strategies, by the way, that could benefit you in more than just math and science. As you’ve discovered, these strategies grew from considerable evidence about how the human mind works. The interplay between emotion and cognition, though seldom put into words, is an essential component to all learning. In her own way, my daughter pointed out that studying isn’t just about the strategies. You have to be convinced that those strategies can actually work. The clear and compelling evidence you read in this book should give you the confidence to try techniques without the doubt and resistance that often sabotages our best efforts. Learning is, of course, personally empirical. The ultimate evidence will come when you evaluate your performance and attitude once you earnestly deploy these strategies.

I am now a college professor and I have advised thousands of students over the years. Many students try to avoid math and science because they “are not good at it” or “don’t like it.” My advice to these students has always been the same advice I gave my daughter: “Get good at it, and then see if you still want to quit.” After all, isn’t education supposed to be about getting good at challenging things?

Remember how difficult learning to drive was? Now, it is almost automatic and gives you a sense of independence you will value throughout their adult life. By being open to new strategies like the ones in this book, learners now have the opportunity to move past anxiety and avoidance toward mastery and confidence.

It is now up to you: Get good!

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