Throughout my journey to being where I am right now, training to be a primary school teacher, I have had to persevere and overcome some hurdles on the way. The biggest and baddest of them all is MATHS. I tried to ignore it and avoid it but when the choice came up for me to ‘Discover Maths’ as a module in 2nd year I thought, I need to face this head on before maths takes over me.
Turns out however, I am not alone. The Organisation for Economic and cooperation and Development (OECD) raised awareness for close attention on math anxiety after recognizing that around 30% of Scottish learners reported that they feel very tense and nervous when doing maths work and more than 50% worry that maths will be difficult. (Scottish government, 2016). The whole way through school I knew how uncomfortable I felt about maths, so why was it never recognized as a problem. Recognizing the ‘problem’ as such may have allowed me to look at it from a different point of view. I may have been able to establish that maybe I am not just rubbish at maths.Mark H. Ashcraft talks about how he witnessed upset when It came to asking simple as 15 – 8. He linked this problem to the simplicity of spelling ‘cat’. (2002) This is where I found a clear link with my problem. despite me not having great confidence within spelling, it has never stopped me or discouraged me to try my hardest within literacy based subjects such as English or History. So why has this maths fear hit be so hard? Why is it that I don’t tackle the parts of the maths problem I can do and work it from there?
The University of Dundee have made efforts to research ways into targeting maths anxiety. An Online Maths Assessment has been introduced to allow Education students to take an opportunity to improve their levels and confidence within Maths (Henderson, 2010). Teaching us students about the issue and providing us with resources is taking steps to reduce the fear that is taking over.
The Scottish Government have also put out recommendations of what parents/careers, teachers, practitioners and pupils can do to improve maths standards. – improving maths skills for employment. I feel we fail to recognize the importance that maths can play within future opportunities, the job possibilities that maths can open us up to. When you google ‘maths and jobs’ it comes up with 3 recommended jobs, 2 of which are math teachers. what kind of idea does that present to children? That we only learn maths to teach it?
There are many questions I feel I still have surrounding maths and anxiety but what I hope this module allows me to do is investigate and gain more knowledge about how I can save my future pupils from the fear that overtook my experience.
Scottish Government. (2016) Transforming Scotland into a maths Positive Nation. Available at: https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/3014/4 (accessed on 5.10.18)
Ashcraft, M. (2002) Math Anxiety: Personal, Educational, and Cognitive Consequences. Availabe at: http://www.mccc.edu/~jenningh/Courses/documents/math_anxiety.pdf (accessed on 5.10.18)
Henderson, S. (2010). Mathematics Education: The Intertwining of Affect and Cognition. Unpublished doctoral thesis. D.Ed. University of Dundee.