The Elephant in the Classroom: why maths is at the heart of ‘character’ development

There is growing evidence of the importance of what is broadly termed ‘character’, those attitudes and behaviours that underpin success at school and work, such as resilience, motivation and self-control.

Indeed there is a range of data to suggest these ‘non-cognitive’ or so-called ‘soft’ skills more accurately predict long-term educational success than performance in traditional subjects, like maths. 

At National Numeracy our vision is for everyone in the UK to have the confidence and competence to use numbers and think mathematically in everyday life, but how can this link to the notions of ‘character’?

Many believe that improving numeracy will be the inevitable by-product of a focus on academic maths.

National Numeracy has taken a different approach and our Essentials of Numeracy embodies the elements that we believe are vital to prepare young people for life in modern Britain, including those notably absent from maths curricula in the UK but present in high-performing countries, and this is where the link with character comes in. 

This paper looks at why character, grit and mindset are a key part of learning maths.  
 

Read the full think piece

 

Is ‘character’ a part of your maths teaching? 

Let us know what you think by tweeting us @Nat_Numeracy with the hashtag #nnevidence 

 

References: 

Boaler, Jo. 2009. The Elephant In The Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths.

Duckworth, Angela L., Christopher Peterson, Michael D. Matthews, and Dennis R. Kelly. 2007. “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-term Goals.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92 (6): 1087. 

Dweck, Carol. 2008. “Mindset and Math/Science Achievement ". Teaching & Leadership: Managing for Effective Teachers and Leaders.

Khaneman, Daniel. 2011. Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Syed, Matthew. 2010. Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice.

Tough, Paul. 2012. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.

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