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What is a trait?

Traits are a person's inherent characteristics or values. They include honesty, patience, courage, diligence and determination, and that's just for starters.

Mathematically, there are certain traits which promote mathematical learning and mastery.

Why are they important?

Mindset is something that can be developed but a person's traits are often hard wired from birth, however with practice and discipline, some traits can be developed or enhanced.

What's involved?

The following traits are key:

  • Curiosity


    Curiousity is the most important thing in learning!

    Here are a few questions you could ask yourself when you are learning a new concept:

    What would happen if... ?

    Why does it work that way?

    What does this remind me of?

  • Patience


    Patience goes hand in hand with determination and courage. It is very easy to get distracted when the going gets tough.

    To increase your patience, set a time limit for whatever task you are undertaking then increase the time a bit each day.

  • Creativity


    Creativity is one of those traits that is difficult to learn but there are ways to promote it. It is a whole brain process so it is important to engage the right brain when fostering creativity in mathematics.

    Try these: draw, play, try brain gym, move about, sing, ...

  • Courage


    Don't be afraid of making a mistake. That will stop you trying!

    Always remember if you are getting everything right then you are not learning anything. You need to make mistakes to learn.

  • Adaptability


    Mathematicians need to be able to apply their knowledge and skills to new situations that they haven't encountered before. An important trait is adaptability - the ability to change tack part way through a problem and approach it from a different angle.

    After you've solved a problem, try and solve it a different way!

  • Organisation


    A person who is organised will be methodical in their approach to learning and towards solving problems. It's just like keeping your bedroom tidy by putting things away after you use them.

    To promote organisation, follow a system when you are learning or problem solving. You can try: making a learning timetable, writing a list and crossing items off, or using a system of coloured highlighters or postit notes to categorise topics.