I want to say that math improves the 'ability to reason' and 'elasticity of mind'. This is what I would say in my language (Italian).

After a Google search I see that 'ability of reason' is an existing periphrasis and instead of elasticity of mind I find 'mental agility'. I never heard anyone use these words in English, so I was wondering if they are not correct in this context. Is there something else you say instead to express the same concept? What do school teachers tell students?

Thank you

  • Please show some research of your own (eg a Google search for "mental agility" turns up how many stated results? Do the first few look like they are from reasonable sources?) Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 19:37
  • Sure, mental agility is normal and common; "elasticity of mind" is also idiomatic but reserved for more formal/clinical registers. You can see how these phrases are used in the wild, with context, by using a reputable corpus searching tool. My favorite is COCA, but there are others.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 19:46
  • Thank you, I didn't know about these corpus searching tools
    – rico
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


In the United States, there are some commonly-used terms that have been growing in popularity in the field of education over the past 15 years or so. These terms describe certain abilities, which are collectively called "21st Century Skills". They include:

Critical thinking (this is close to your 'ability to reason', and describes forming conclusions through rational thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving)

Innovation (perhaps related to your 'elasticity of mind', describing the ability to use a wide range of idea creation techniques, imagination, and creativity)

Flexibility (also related to your 'elasticity of mind', and can refer to adaptability of one's own behavior or attitude while working alone as well as within a group)

Quite a lot has been researched and written on the subject of 21st century skills; the above are simply my own summaries. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is a reputable source and has more information here.

  • None of these really reflects "elasticità mentale"
    – Nemo
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 9:29

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