Question by Jubal Harshaw: Is there any way to “unlock the math side of the mind”?
I am very interested in pursuing a career in either theoretical physics or astrophysics, and am trying to improve my math skills, realizing a career in the aforementioned would be impossible without having a firm grasp of mathematical concepts. I am not terrible in math, but I am not particularly good. Is there a way to “unlock” the math side of the brain, or am I doomed to fail at the more advanced concepts? Would tutoring help or am I just not wired for math? Thank you in advance.
Answer by kuiperbelt2003
no, you are not doomed…we have learned in the last decade or so much about how the brain works, and the good news is that the brain is plastic, and can adapt to new challenges
the way to improve your math skills is to give yourself a series of accessible challenges…work with your teachers and also find books that will challenge you in math, but with challenges that you will eventually meet
each time you do this, you train your brain to be better at recognizing the concepts of math; after a while, you will be able to accept more challenges and improve even more
the analogy often used is with weight training…the way to get stronger is to lift weights at your current limit of strength, but if you try to lift an automobile, you will fail since that is likely beyond your capability, and trying this challenge will not make you much stronger
this is not to say the brain is a muscle, but research in neuroscience and the cognitive sciences have shown us that this sort of training will improve your functioning
one caveat…research also shows that the training must be serious and ongoing…this is not something that you can do in a few weeks or months, but will be a many year process…if you are dedicated and can stick to it, you can be successful
you are NOT doomed…but you will need to be dedicated
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