The debate about a ‘maths gene’

There are many reasons why significant numbers of learners of all ages lack confidence in dealing with the range of numeracy demands in their lives, but it is scandalous that ‘I cannot do it because I do not have the right brain’ is cited so often by people as one of them. 

Here is what our Head of Education, Lynn Churchman, has to say on this issue.

Claims that ‘it is OK not to be able to do maths’ or ‘you have to have the “maths gene” to succeed in being numerate’ are based on false assumptions and misunderstandings about what is possible and what the evidence suggests. 

We at National Numeracy have a vision of a world where these assumptions are challenged so that individuals of all ages believe that it is perfectly possible to be numerate in their everyday lives and to learn new mathematical skills as the need arises. The evidence suggests that such a change requires a ‘hearts and minds’ shift in two key respects; the role of ‘positive mindset’ and the value of ‘being stuck’. 

This paper looks at changes required and how we all have a role to play… parents, siblings, peers, and friends.  

Read the full think piece 


How do you help encourage a positive approach to maths? 

There is often a badge of honour in the UK if you 'can't do maths'. How can we change this? 

What do you think? Tweet your replies to @Nat_Numeracy with the hashtag #nnevidence 



Dweck, Carol. 2012. Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. 

Boaler, Jo. 2009. The Elephant in the Classroom. 

Johnston-Wilder, S., 2013. Measuring Mathematical Resilience: An application of the construct of resilience to the study of mathematics.