Barbara Oakley at the Smartick Headquarters
It is not every day that we have one of our biggest inspirations visit Smartick, but it happened a few days ago when we chatted with Barbara Oakley at our headquarters. She is the coauthor of the course ”Learning How to Learn,” in Coursera with two million students and has published various books, two of which are fundamental for us: A Mind for Numbers and one recently published this summer, Learning How to Learn for kids.
At Smartick, we discovered Barbara Oakley thanks to a great article in Nautilus in which she explained how she reset her brain to learn math, after hating it as a girl, went on to join the Army, and learn Russian. That was over two years ago and since then we have had an excellent relationship with Barbara Oakley, but we were never able to welcome her at our office.
In the morning we did not stop asking questions and she always responded kindly and with a clarity worthy of the best teacher. We introduced her to our Customer Service team and told her that it is fundamental for us to learn from the families that use Smartick all over the world: their concerns and telling us what makes their children excited or frustrated. We also introduced her to our pedagogical team, a mix of mathematicians and teachers who are the ones that study how to make children better understand the different mathematical concepts, the bricks that Barbara Oakley speaks about when they are building a knowledge of language or mathematics.
After, she met our Development and Data Analysis team, made up of various mathematicians and programmers, who are in charge of implementing and improving what happens with the other teams and uploading, every five weeks, a better version of Smartick.
We sat with Barbara Oakley on a yellow sofa and she told us why she thinks it is essential to practice concentrated math for 15 minutes a day. That it is not contradictory to try to make math fun by explaining what it’s for, explaining the concepts in various ways, and using manipulative games, while at the same time practicing so those concepts take up a permanent place in our executive memory. She explained to us that to learn, it is important to have good habits and how important a program like Smartick is, which through practice, helps children become fond of math from an early age.
It was a pleasure to have her in our office. If you really what to give your kids the tools they need to study, buy her latest book and do Smartick every afternoon – a winning combination.
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