# Thread: What's the best way to learn math

1. The most efficient way to learn mathematics, IMSO, is when two conditions appear, one of which should necessarily follow if the other is satisfied.

The first, and most important, is for mathematics to be between the student and their long term goals. I don't mean in the "everyone has to learn calculus to get a degree" obstacle, because that just leads to slog and forget. It has to be integral to something he wants to do--or at the very least, clearly makes something he wants to do easier. Then there is clear motivation, and you don't have to fight the "when am I going to use this"-itis that all experience because learning is difficult and the subconscious would rather triage any mental effort it finds needless or unpleasantly difficult. Even if someone likes maths, they will occasionally hit a wall of not feeling game enough to study.

This is also where word problems are magic--but I expect you are already aware of that aspect. I'd encourage you to look for real world equivalents to the use of manipulatives as a way to encourage mathematical thinking, and implant the idea that being excellent at the practice is advantageous and worthy of the effort expended. There is opportunity for mathematical description everywhere, it's just a matter of connecting it to a student's interests in a way that isn't preachy, but emphasizes the value of forethought and forecomputation. From that will flow the advantages of reflexive memory that can only be attained through drill and practice.

The second condition is the discovery of nuggets of observation that blow the mind. Like all computations break down to sums, and all sums describe a triangle per Pythagoras, therefore anything computable can be represented with triangles.

The absolute best situation is to have a problem you know is soluble, want to solve, but cannot with the math you presently know.

2. seconded.
(I just learned he has was a math major)

also this: traineth thou mind, with aops online!
(be sure to read everything on and off the website )

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