Category Archives: 1 Prof. Values & Personal Commitment

Me and My Maths Anxiety

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: (accessed on 5.10.18)

Ashcraft, M. (2002) Math Anxiety: Personal, Educational, and Cognitive Consequences. Availabe at: (accessed on 5.10.18)

Henderson, S. (2010). Mathematics Education: The Intertwining of Affect and Cognition. Unpublished doctoral thesis. D.Ed. University of Dundee.

Lots of Resources makes life easier??

We were group 1 and therefore had the most amount of resources. We went back to being like children on Christmas day, so many options we didn’t know what to do with ourselves!

We were asked to create something that would help a student through their first week of university. We could only make from what we were given.

The first task was just to mind map and discuss an idea to present to the rest of the class. We went first and all took turns at saying our own wee bit about our idea – a pin board with a personalised timetable, a map colour co-ordinated with the timetable, reminders of events on and much more. We had the option to so why not make it as big as we could! We received a lot of praise, our idea seemed great and our tutor seemed very happy with the effort we had put in. Then the other groups went. Group 2 seemed to have a similar idea, they were praised but she didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic as she was with us. As the groups went on, there was less praise and less enthusiasm put into the feedback. We assumed she was getting tired of hearing similar ideas.

The next task was to create the idea we had all come up with again. We were reminded that we were to only use the resources we were provided with. We made our pin board and were even able to add on more to what we had initially planned on due to the amount of ‘stuff’ we were given- we even made a small packet with pencils, pens and highlighters. We again presented our idea, we all had a chance to speak and we received brilliant feedback! Again we were showered with praise! – Well done this is amazing, I LOVED what you all did. As the groups went on the praise wasn’t the same as ours. It got to the point where the tutor asked a group to stop, laughed at then even!

This is when it clicked for us – This task has a hidden message.

The other groups didn’t have as much as us, in fact they basically had nothing. We were the rich in society and they were the poor. The lesson was that people can be treated differently because of what or how much they have. We were so excited with our ‘stuff’ that we forgot to realise the others around us and why they were doing so poor, or what seemed to be so poor. We were so unaware that we blamed the tutors rudeness and lack of praise on the fact that we all worked as a group and that she maybe genuinely didn’t like the others!

 facepalm idiot idiots face palm oy vey GIF

We then discussed. How was this task fair? Why didn’t we notice others suffering? Why didn’t we offer our resources – after all we had enough to make a pin board for every student in DUNDEE.

The idea was then reflected to our life’s and how we need to actively make an effort in our classes. There will be children that we come across who have everything they need in life, and how it may be possible that they have been treated very well. BUT the children that have less are in fact the ones that may need our extra attention and praise. After all we could be the one person in their life that is taking notice to their achievements.

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Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

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