Think like a mathematician

Become a more confident maths student

To get maths it pays to start seeing yourself as a mathematician (actually you are — you study mathematics). James Tanton has 5 principles for thinking like a school maths genius.

My advice:

  • Think like a mathematician
    • use your brain — don’t be lazy
    • look for intelligent shortcuts — be lazy!
    • pay attention to detail
  • Write like a mathematician
    • get into the way of checking each line of working as you write it in order to catch any errors (there will be errors — at least at first)
    • value accuracy
    • take pride in giving full and convincing answers

It’s often said that maths study develops thinking skills. A 2013 paper Advanced Mathematical Study and the Development of Conditional Reasoning Skills by Attridge and Inglis has done some research on this idea and finds that it holds. This is a very valuable skill to acquire for work and also for being a capable citizen.