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July 23, 2019, 07:01:01 pm

Author Topic: Have you experienced maths anxiety?  (Read 1098 times)  Share 

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Joseph41

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Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« on: August 23, 2018, 02:47:28 pm »
+7
And, more broadly, what do you think about it? According to this article, it can cause "a thumping heart, butterflies in the stomach and sweaty palms."

In a primary school featured in that same article, "a pilot program grounded in psychology is giving teachers the skills to identify and address maths anxiety in themselves and their students."

What do we think? Is this an issue with the way we teach - or project the idea of - mathematics in Australian schools?
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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2018, 03:19:30 pm »
+12
Yes, absolutely. People say that maths is an easy subject because itís so black and white. But itís really not, and I get stressed about my inability to understand it purely because it is so supposedly black and white. My anxiety when it comes to maths definitely includes sweaty palms, but I tend to overthink things and shut down instead of getting riled up. My heart beats faster and I canít think anymore. I just end up staring at the page panicking.

I think that this isnít the fault of any school or teaching method. Out of personal experience, I wonít blame anyone or anything but my own mind. Everyone functions differently - some see maths as a straightforward thing. Others donít. Itís part of our uniqueness as individuals; what our brains can and canít comprehend. And when we are expected to understand something in a compulsory manner, this can be really stressful and can potentially lead to symptoms of anxiety. I donít think there is any other way to work with it - thereís a point in life where the sickness and panic isnít something your teachers or the school system should be responsible for. Maths anxiety isnít something the entire system should revolve around. If we try to fully cater for everything, weíll end up contradicting ourselves and making a bigger mess of the system than it already is.

Iím not sure if what Iíve said makes sense, but tl;dr I donít think itís an issue with teaching method - itís a personal thing that families should work to support.

If teachers are learning psychological methods, they should get paid more.
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Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2018, 05:56:39 pm »
+7
I agree with above. It really comes down to person. However, I think another thing that can cause aforementioned maths anxiety is the lack of a solid foundation. We all know English to be a subject you canít simply learn from a textbook over a year and perform well in. Being good at English begins in oneís early years (Iíd say even down to year 4-5). From what Iíve noticed in my school, those who have been readers in their early years and consistently worked on their English through out years 7-10 tend to be the best in it during VCE.

Likewise, having a solid basis in maths is important. As it is predominantly an application subject (unlike, say, HHD where memorisation is more important) one needs to have a good understanding of typical mathematics. This begins, in my opinion, in around year 7. One cannot expect to neglect math up to VCE and then go on to simply Ďget ití. To Ďgetí maths a person needs to understand why things happen and why we use certain methods to solve questions. Connected to this is studentsí habit of simply memorising formulas and steps to questions without actually understanding why those are applied. The purpose of tests and exams is to test your knowledge to unfamiliar situations. Thus, in my opinion, what separates those who score in the 30s and those who score in 40s is the habit of questioning why one does x and how the math works.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2018, 05:58:21 pm by Lear »
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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2018, 06:03:39 pm »
+7
Absolutely.

Maths as a discipline itself has that negative stigma attached to it.

I unfortunately do think some of it has to do with the teaching of maths both currently and in the past. We are still teaching via textbooks rather than finding creative ways to teach maths and it really is disappointing. As a maths teacher I really do try and come up with creative and varied ways of teaching maths... it really is a tough thing to learn as a student, and a tough discipline to teach as a teacher because content knowledge alone isn't enough. You're battling negativity, mental rejection, acceptance of maths being 'hard' etc.

I did a PD last year which focused on maths anxiety (hence why my face lit up when I saw this title), and I agreed with the idea that students think it's OK to be bad at maths and not like it, purely because that's an accepted attitude in our society. Obviously one consequence of this is a fixed mindset which doesn't help anybody.

I also don't think tests/exams are the be all and end all and there are ways to be 'good' at maths rather than demonstrating an ability to regurgitate information under timed conditions. It's no wonder that those who achieve highly throughout the year then bomb out during an exam - it's anxiety more than anything.

Part of my PD looked at the idea of reframing tests - rather than giving a student an "A" grade or a percentage mark and say 'congratulations, you've achieved 90%' for example, we focus on growth and whether the student has improved and built upon their previous understanding. It's a massive challenge for current teachers (especially veterans) as this is what the current/previous models have accepted as the norm for testing.

I'm glad i've had experience doing testing/collecting data in this way, because it has allowed me to approach achievement in a completely different way.

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If teachers are learning psychological methods, they should get paid more.
Just another thing teachers have to be experts at, for literally no compensation :)  8)

Just some thoughts....

Edit: I actually wrote this without reading the linked article, however after reading it.... it's interesting to read some quotes:
Quote
ďA student might think their maths ability is fixed, or inherited, or they might say, ĎI am just not a maths personí.
Quote
Maths was surrounded by harmful myths that could also lead to this anxiety
Quote
Itís hoped overcoming this fear ensures teachers don't inadvertently transmit negative attitudes about maths to their students.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2018, 06:13:37 pm by Aaron »
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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2018, 03:31:23 pm »
+5
Not so much the whole thumping heart, sweaty palms thing, I just completely gave up on it cos that's what I do when I don't think I can do something. My first U1 methods SAC I did really badly in. The one after that I picked B for all of the multiple choice and (badly) drew butterflies all over it. I figured that since I did badly on the first one, I just couldn't do math.

Math kind of has to be taught in order as well which doesn't really help. I remember when I was in methods my teacher would be explaining stuff and writing it on the board and he would go through steps but skip the details about how he got that because he assumed we knew - and I didn't. I never asked though because everyone else seemed to get it and our teacher would 'joke' about people getting things wrong, but that's another story haha.

I suppose math is kinda hard to teach because of that as well. Do you explain every step and bore half the class, or do you skip it and confuse half of them.

I definitely do think there's a perception that you either get math or you don't. In some subjects if you do well it's like 'you must have studied hard' but then in math it's more like 'you must be smart'


We are still teaching via textbooks rather than finding creative ways to teach maths and it really is disappointing. As a maths teacher I really do try and come up with creative and varied ways of teaching maths.
I interviewed a person for a math teacher job at my school last year and we asked about creative ways of teaching maths. I can't remember exactly what it was she said but she told us of a time when she was at dinner and it was windy and so her glass was making a noise. She said that gave her the idea to experiment with her math class on the best wind angle and the diameter of the bottle needed to make different pitched noises and that's how she taught them that. - She got the job haha
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JR_StudyEd

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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2019, 11:07:30 pm »
+3
How have I only found out about this thread now?! Wow, just when I needed it too!  :D 

I am not a maths person at all, and probably never will be. Must be maths anxiety.

Yes, indeed, I have experienced maths anxiety, and as a result, maths apathy. Then I experience almost daily episodes of wanting to break down over maths. Kinda sucks when you study (or try to study) Methods and feel that way. Recently I made my own thread about how teachers never tend to explain the why behind the how in maths, if you get what I mean. Having read that article, I think that because there is so much to learn, (through mostly no fault of their own, mind you), the teachers have focused on quantity of content drilled into student's heads rather than true intuition.

It's great that they're doing this with primary students! Get 'em while they're young(er). I sure could've done with a bit of meditative thinking before my primary school maths classes. Maths, for me personally, slowly became this:

1) Learn formula
2) Plug numbers into formula
3) That, ladies and gentlemen, is Mathematics.
3a) With next to no explanation of the signficance of what we were being taught or where stuff was being derived, etc.
4) Hence why I gradually lost interest

Until about Year 10. Maths concepts became seemingly more abstract and about as unapplicable outside the classroom as you could get. My interest in Maths continued on a downward spiral to the present day. I have a SAC in less than a week, and I am absolutely petrified of what will be on it (despite us being able to use bound reference + CAS, but that's a story for another day)

Quote
They feel like any effort to try and improve is going to have any positive outcome.Ē

You're kidding, right? That is a typo, right? I'm pretty sure that's meant to say "They feel like any effort to try and improve is not going to have any positive outcome". That's exactly how I feel. Even if I am doing maths work, I don't feel like I'm improving.

Quote
ďA student might think their maths ability is fixed, or inherited, or they might say, ĎI am just not a maths personí

^ Me. How I'm going to change this, I don't know.
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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2019, 05:03:29 pm »
0
Are there any resources or people I can consult if I feel like I am suffering from maths anxiety? I've spoken to my own maths teacher, but he seemed unsure of the psychological strain (understandably, his job is to teach Maths). I've also spoken to my school's counsellor, but it didn't really brighten my outlook on the situation in the way I would have liked. Something about positive self-talk, but it's hard to do that when almost nothing is encouraging you to do maths.

I suppose there is no substitute to just doing the work and asking for help from my teacher when necessary. I'm not easily self-motivated either, and am only starting to reach out to friendly peers about this.

While we're on the topic, how should I go about asking for help from my peers (especially one who is academically minded?) Is it just like for any other subject?

Additional amendment: My family is struggling financially, so a tutor is just about out of the question. I need help. I can do the basics well, but that won't suffice in Maths Methods. I have the potential, it's the anxiety that's bringing me down.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 05:06:36 pm by JR_StudyEd »
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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2019, 06:58:36 pm »
0
While we're on the topic, how should I go about asking for help from my peers (especially one who is academically minded?) Is it just like for any other subject?

Just ask them, I know it can be embarrassing but if they're friendly as you say then they shouldn't mind (unless they're busy or something). In fact, they may even be flattered that you asked them for help. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "similar" though. Ask them to explain how to do a particular question?
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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2019, 11:28:10 pm »
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I still have maths anxiety. The anxiety that is detrimental to my performance and demoralising on my self-esteem. I believe it's due to the way I've perceived maths (or how it's been drilled into me by teachers over the years, I'm not entirely sure). Why does maths have a 'negative stigma' anyway? Why can't it be as simple as shifting the student's mindset towards perceiving maths in a more positive manner? How does a school community go about trying to help students adopt a more positive attitude towards maths? And no, telling us to 'think positive' isn't going to help in the slightest. (It's only the oldest and most worn-out piece of advice in the book).

In addition, there aren't very many ways to effectively study for maths assessments (that I really know of). Sure, you could smash out some practice questions, but for me personally, I quickly find it to be massively tedious and it just makes me want to not only give up on maths, but studying in general. Is there a way to learn and apply maths that is both engaging and effective? If so, I'd really like to know (so I can share it with people). Lecture-style doesn't work for me as the pedagogy is too fast to immediately process, and I walk out of most classes thinking, what did my teacher even talk about? This is despite our class having the time to go over examples.

Maths has this deceptive nature. At the time you are being taught, you nod your head as if you understand, but when you actually get down to completing questions, you have no recollection of what was taught and even more effort (and tears) are needed to try and deeply understand what we were being taught.
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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2019, 07:12:08 pm »
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It's interesting (and concerning) that for me at least, maths is really the only subject to have such a negative connotation to my mind. I don't really experience 'biology anxiety' or 'english anxiety' as markedly as I do maths anxiety. I do certainly experience test and exam anxiety (as I'm sure 101% of the population experiences), but I'm just wondering why maths is singled out in this way.
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Re: Have you experienced maths anxiety?
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2019, 08:22:27 pm »
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It's interesting (and concerning) that for me at least, maths is really the only subject to have such a negative connotation to my mind. I don't really experience 'biology anxiety' or 'english anxiety' as markedly as I do maths anxiety. I do certainly experience test and exam anxiety (as I'm sure 101% of the population experiences), but I'm just wondering why maths is singled out in this way.
I guess because math is probably the only subject that you can't really rely on just knowledge to help you. Like for example the humanities, you know if you've 100% memorized the textbook and done all the past papers, you'll ace it and I can attest to this because it's what I did for Software and it worked. However with Math's there is always an uncertainty, just memorizing all the relevant formulas and scenarios won't get you a very good mark.

In a sense for Math you have to train your mind to think a certain way, which is much harder than memorizing a textbook..
« Last Edit: July 22, 2019, 08:24:39 pm by DrDusk »
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