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“A significantly greater number of students fail science, engineering and math courses that are taught lecture-style than fail in classes incorporating so-called active learning that expects them to participate in discussions and problem-solving beyond what they've memorized.”

Enough with the lecturing, National Science Foundation

Our principles for learning

  1. If you are excited, then you will learn quickly.

    The greatest challenges to education are disinterest and apathy.

  2. Questions that cultivate curiosity are better than lectures.

    Research validates what our common sense tells us—that lectures are an ineffective way to learn something new.

  3. Effective learning is active, not passive.

    Moving from ignorance to understanding is an intellectual contact sport. Watching a video is not enough.

  4. It is essential to apply what you're learning as you learn it.

    Use it or lose it—to learn effectively, reduce the time between being exposed to a new idea and applying it.

  5. The threat of a test can't deliver the results that genuine interest can.

    People who want to learn will naturally seek out the concepts and intuition that form the foundation of true learning, rather than cramming facts and formulas.

  6. Community matters.

    It is a critical part of education to exchange ideas and be inspired by a community that challenges you.

  7. Your age is a poor way to determine what you are capable of learning.

    Standards are seductive, but the reality is that people are developmentally different.

  8. A great education should encourage failure.

    The difference between a good student and a great student is that great students allow themselves to fail. Failure is a necessary part of the process of challenging yourself to think at your limit.

  9. A great education equips you to tackle new and unfamiliar problems.

    Eventually, the contrived problems end and we must solve problems in the world. Critical thinking is the skill we grow when confronting unfamiliar problems, and is the most valuable part of an education.

  10. People who emerge from a great education seek to define problems and not merely solve the ones they're given.

    The culmination of a great education is not having all the answers, but knowing what to ask.

Learn more about our philosophy and stories of real users in the New York Times, where we regularly contribute to the NumberPlay column, and in our other press mentions in the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Bloomberg, NPR, and more.


Our method

The capacity to think critically—not raw IQ or knowledge—is the power that separates successful from mediocre participants in many fields. We can grow this power by trying, and often failing, to solve diverse, concrete problems. This is the Brilliant.org method:

  1. Start with simple questions that test your understanding and recall.
  2. Step up to problems that seem just beyond your ability, written and organized by an experienced guide.
  3. Study different ways of solving the problems that are out of your grasp.

Millions of people around the world have been growing their abilities together on Brilliant, and we've been studying what works and what doesn't. Their study and practice is our laboratory, and we put our learnings back into our product, content, and community development for your benefit.

Who built this?

A resource like Brilliant takes focused time and effort to build. A global team of experienced staff, contractors, and enthusiasts have guided the development of the material and philosophy that you see today. The core staff leaders today are:

Calvin Lin

International Mathematical Olympiad 2000, 2001

Calvin represented Singapore in the IMO. He has spent years teaching the joy of mathematics through understanding the patterns and linkage of ideas, rather than the memorization of formulas.

Zandra Vinegar

B.S. in Mathematics, MIT

Zandra has taught aspiring young students in math enrichment programs such as the Berkeley, Stanford, and San Francisco Math Circles. She loves opening people's eyes to the beautiful relationships that exist in mathematics.

Eli Ross

B.S. in Mathematics, MIT

Eli directed the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament, and later applied math and computer science to research ranging from derivatives markets to quantitative linguistics to voting theory. He enjoys connecting mathematical abstraction to the world around us.

Josh Silverman

Ph.D. in Biological Physics, The Scripps Research Institute

Josh has researched problems at the intersection of physics and biology, focusing on the economics of resource allocation in growing cells. He likes to shine light on ideas that cross the borders between disciplines.


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