## What the Rubik’s Cube taught me about learning maths

Over the last few weeks I’ve been spending some time learning some speed-cubing techniques on the Rubik’s Cube. I’ve been able to solve the cube for about ten years now using the Petrus method and I’ve never really bothered to go any further than just a basic solution – I’ve never been inclined to do so until now.

Anyway – as I learn about speed-cubing there are some similarities that I notice between how to go about learning to speed-cube and how to learn mathematics.

When I’m solving A Level maths problems (and even back when I was an A Level maths student myself) I was able to think ahead when solving problems and almost see the whole form of the solution in my head before I’d even put pen to paper. Why? Because I wasn’t having to waste energy faffing around trying to remember whether $x \times x$ is $2x$ or $x^{2}$ or whether I need a common denominator or not when multiplying fractions. I know that some of my A Level students think I’m being funny when I say that they need to work on their fractions but I’m serious – if you don’t go slow to start with and learn the basics well then you can almost forget about speeding things up or moving on to more advanced things because you will always be several steps behind those who have solid foundations.