Teachers tell us that their pupils often have a ‘fixed mindset’ towards maths.
They say pupils become anxious, disruptive or disengaged when challenged with a new or tough maths problem.
They are scared of making mistakes, being criticised or being labelled as ‘not clever’.
A high school maths teacher told us: “Most of my pupils have negative attitudes towards mathematics and expect to be told exactly what to do at all times. I would like them to enjoy their time in maths and be open to experimenting, exploring ideas independently, and trying things for themselves.”
However, teachers taking part in our mindset in numeracy programmes say their pupils are developing a growth mindset towards maths. They say their pupils:
Are more engaged in maths and more willing to try tougher challenges
Are less scared of making mistakes (and learn from them when they do)
Show more persistence and effort with their maths tasks
In Dundee, where we support two-thirds of all primary schools, Scottish Government data showed that 87% of these schools demonstrated improvements in numeracy attainment between 2017-18 and 2018-19.
“Growth mindset has opened up many opportunities for children to achieve beyond their expectations. We now have a more problem solving approach and collaborative approach to mathematics. The children work together, talk through their strategies and support each other. It has had a very positive impact on their ability, self-esteem and attainment within the school.” Ann Bowman (Head Teacher), Clarkston Primary School, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire
“All of the learners feel more confident around maths. They enjoy it a lot more than they did previously and perceive it differently, they don’t see maths as a challenging subject anymore. They are a lot more engaged and enjoy it. The growth mindset approach made them feel more positive around maths.” Kiara Sim, Isobel Mair School, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire
“This project has changed my learners. Maths doesn’t seem to be scary anymore. They enjoy it. They feel they belong in a maths lesson whereas before they seemed to dread maths. They have a belief in themselves that they can tackle anything put in front of them.” Danielle Craig, St Anthony’s Primary School, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
“I heard less negativity towards maths and much more giving things a go. There were some very nervous and unsure children, including some with dyslexia and potentially dyscalculia. Now they put their hands up and contribute whereas previously they would never have said anything.” Lisa Drummond, St Augustine’s Primary School, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire