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How to Learn Math

Enrollment is Closed

About This Course

A current offering of this course can be found here.

This course offers important new research ideas on learning, the brain, and math that can transform students’ experiences with math. The course is primarily for teachers and parents and others who may help students with math. It consists of short videos interspersed with various thinking tasks—such as reflecting on videos, designing lessons, discussing ideas with peers in the class—to promote active engagement. The class features videos with leaders in education such as Carol Dweck, author of mindset theories, and Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity.

This course first launched summer 2013 but this new version is open for enrollment7.

More than 40,000 people took the last class – mainly teachers, parents and school administrators. 95% of people completing the end of course survey said that they would change their teaching or ways of helping as a result of the course.

An accompanying student intervention course is also available here.


1. Knocking down the myths about math.
Math is not about speed, memorization or learning lots of rules. There is no such thing as “math people” and non-math people. Girls are equally capable of the highest achievement. This session will include interviews with students.

2. Math and Mindset.
Participants will be encouraged to develop a growth mindset, they will see evidence of how mindset changes students’ learning trajectories, and learn how it can be developed.

3. Mistakes, Challenges & Persistence.
What is math persistence? Why are mistakes so important? How is math linked to creativity? This session will focus on the importance of mistakes, struggles and persistence.

4. Teaching Math for a Growth Mindset.
This session will give strategies to teachers and parents for helping students develop a growth mindset and will include an interview with Carol Dweck.

5. Conceptual Learning. Part I. Number Sense.
Math is a conceptual subject– we will see evidence of the importance of conceptual thinking and participants will be given number problems that can be solved in many ways and represented visually.

6. Conceptual Learning. Part II. Connections, Representations, Questions.
In this session we will look at and solve math problems at many different grade levels and see the difference in approaching them procedurally and conceptually. Interviews with successful users of math in different, interesting jobs (film maker, inventor of self-driving cars etc) will show the importance of conceptual math.

7. Appreciating Algebra.
Participants will learn some key research findings in the teaching and learning of algebra and learn about a case of algebra teaching.

8. Going From This Course to a New Mathematical Future.
This session will review the ideas of the course and think about the way towards a new mathematical future.


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Staff

Jo Boaler
Professor of Mathematics Education

Dr Jo Boaler is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University, the editor of the Research Commentary Section of The Journal for Research in Mathematics Education (JRME) and founder/CEO of Former roles have included being the Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Sussex, England, a mathematics teacher in London comprehensive schools and a lecturer and researcher at King’s College, London. She is the author of seven books including What’s Math Got To Do With It? (2009) Penguin, US, and The Elephant in the Classroom (2010) Souvenir Press, UK.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whom is this course for?

This course is for teachers of math (K-12) or for other helpers of students, such as parents. (A student course is also offered here) This course provides an opportunity for teachers and parents to preview the ideas for students and think about how they may be useful, as well as learn from new research ideas and share ideas with other teachers and parents who enroll in the course.

What is the course structure?

The course will consist of eight short sessions, your watching/listening time will be 10-20 minutes each lesson. In those sessions I will combine some videos of me, interviews with students, cutting edge research ideas, interesting visuals, and some peer and self-assessments. The course will also include interviews with some of the world’s leading thinkers, such as Sebastian Thrun (Udacity/Google) and Carol Dweck (expert on mindset). If you engage with the materials actively, thinking and writing about teaching and learning, I anticipate that each session will take you somewhere between 1 and 2 hours.

What is the pace of the course?

The course will be self-paced, and you can start and end the course at any time in the months it is open.

How will I be assessed?

There will be a concept check at the end of the course and those who finish and are successful will receive a record of completion. There will be no grades given.

Can I collaborate with other teachers/parents?

It will be ideal if you can take this course with others, and discuss the ideas together. There will also be opportunities to engage in discussions through the forum pages, and to share good ideas for teaching.

Do I need to buy a textbook?

You do not need to buy a textbook. My book What’s Math Got To Do With It? Penguin, 2009 (for the USA) or The Elephant in the Classroom Souvenir Press, 2010 (for the UK) will allow you to go into greater depth on some of the ideas.

Can I get professional development hours from my district if I take this course?

Based on the thousands of people who have taken the teacher course we know that finishing the course and completing most of the assignments takes 30 hours. Participants are solely responsible for determining whether participation in the course, including obtaining a statement of accomplishment, will be accepted by a school district, or any other entity, as evidence of professional development coursework.

Does this course carry any kind of Stanford University credit?


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