Can anyone be good at maths?
Dr Mahya Mirzaei (aerospace engineer, University of Sydney)

Maths is a subject that society always tells you is hard, the "not everyone is smart enough to do maths" or "mathematicians are born" quotes are everywhere!

Now here's the truth: from the thousands of students I've taught over the years, I've never seen a student that couldn't learn year 12 maths (or any grade below that). Never. I have had students that went from a failing mark of 20% in their trials to a mark in high 80s or 90s in their final exams, others who went from an average mark to 99 and so on. So why is it that so many students do really bad in maths to begin with?

The reality is that the biggest obstacle to students' success is...... (drum roll)........themselves.

Yes, you! you are the biggest obstacle to your own success. The little voice inside your head that tells you "you are not good enough", the loss of hope you feel every time you can't understand a maths concept, that right there is what is holding you back.

The reality is that no one is born knowing how to solve complex mathematical problems. Are you born knowing how to drive a car or fly an aircraft? No one even questions that, but somehow people expect to be born being good at maths.

Maths is a way of thinking, it's a logical way of seeing the world and everything that goes around us. Now despite the commonly believed myth of "born geniuses", to become good at maths, you need to try hard. That's the only way to it - perseverance. And without faith; perseverance is impossible. I'll give you an example of this:

When I was at high school every time I worked through a maths textbook and I couldn't understand a concept, I'd say "how stupid is this guy that he's written this book in a way that I can't understand it!". So I'd throw that book away, would get another book and would continue until I'd mastered the concept. My sister on the hand would read the same textbook, would not understand the same concept, and then she would say "I am stupid". She would then lose all hope and believe she was not smart enough to study maths.

See how whether you believe you can or you believe you can't changes your attitude so significantly? And there is no coincidence that Henry Ford said:
"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right!"

I did make my sister change her way of thinking though, and once she did, she did great in her HSC exams, did a bachelor of civil engineering at Sydney uni and is now a manager at a large banking corporation. And without a doubt, something like this can be your story too in the future!

You are capable of achieving everything you want! So start believing in yourself, understand that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going, and begin your journey into understanding the world of mathematics, the language of thinking!

Mahya Mirzaei
Bachelor of Aeronautical Space Engineering (University of Sydney)
Doctorate Degree in Engineering - (PhD)