So I should start by defending the introduction of another tortuous piece of edu-terminology and explain what I mean.

If you consider all that you want your students to be good at – and then consider how much time you spend doing it, it would look something like this:


With the vast amount of the time and focus spent on knowledge acquisition and retention and display – the “I know kung Fu. Show me” Matrix (the first one) approach to learning (click image to view video).

This is how most of my lessons were delivered. Some of the activities felt inherently ‘better’ than others. Some I enjoyed teaching more and these tended to be the ones that students engaged with more. They chimed with the vague notion of ‘everything else’-ness that I wanted my students to be good at.

But what is this ‘everything else’? Is it maths literacy? Using maths to make well founded judgments and meet life needs

Or as PISA would define it:


Maths literacy is also described as the sum of:


But that is not really the missing piece for me, its important, but not what I’m getting at. There is still something missing, and this thing is mathitude. It is the way of working that I’d like my students to acquire, an approach and an attitude to maths that underlies all the other stuff they do. It’s the bits of the wonderful world of maths that is not really assessed in a traditional sense.



And this is what I asked the teachers at National Maths conference in September. In separate groups, without and conferring.. make a list.

And what they wrote on the day, and what I wrote in advance was remarkably similar. Some of the order was different, but the contents were basically the same.


And it came down to these things…

Some of it was Growth Mindset

Resilience, not giving up, determined
Embraces challenge
Values effort / recognises the importance of application
Uses feedback

But the rest was mathitude

Celebrating mistakes – being comfortable learning from them and being confident to share them
Communication – explaining their ideas with others, listening to others
Helpful / supportive of other students
Knowing when it is funny and appropriate to laugh, and when it is time to work
in the right way

In my next blog I will explain how I spent a year trying to improve mathitude, how I tried to get away from the increasingly intensive adult intervention method of getting better maths, what I did and how I would have done it differently.