Is Maths Fun?

For me, I always enjoyed maths at school, I enjoyed having one answer to a question and being able to proof that answer yourself, and I was actually rather good at it. However coming into this module I knew this was not the case for many of my colleagues and that within schools ‘maths anxiety’ can be rife. I felt I was important for my own personal and professional development to try and find out why  this sense of ‘maths anxiety’ exists in a attempt to abolish it in my own future teaching.

I have found that a dislike for mathematics can be categorized into two groups; Environmental or individualized factors



Students who are taught in a way that relies too heavily on rote memorization isolated from meaning have difficulty recognizing and retaining math concepts and generalizations.

Curricular materials

Students who do not “get it” the first time are not likely to “get it” the next several times it is taught in the usual manner. Moreover, underachieving students are frequently assigned repetitious and uninteresting skill-and-drill work each year in order to teach them “the basics.” This type of work often represents a narrow view of mathematical foundations and a low level of expectation of students’ abilities. It limits opportunities to reason and problem solve.

The gap between he learner and subject matter

When the mathematics content being taught is unconnected to students’ ability level and/or experiences, serious achievement gaps result. This situation may occur if students are absent frequently or transfer to another school during the academic year.

Personal or individualized factors

Locus of control

Some students believe that their mathematical achievement is mainly attributable to factors beyond their control, such as luck. These students think that if they scored well on a mathematics assignment, they did so only because the content happened to be easy. They view their achievement as accidental and poor progress as inevitable. In doing so, they limit their capacity to study and move ahead (Beck, 2000; Phillips & Gully, 1997).

Memory ability

Some students lack well-developed mental strategies for remembering how to complete algorithmic procedures and combinations of basic facts.

Attention Span

Students may be mentally distracted and have difficulty focusing on multistep problems and procedures.

Understanding Mathematical language

Students are confused by words that also have special mathematical meaning, such as “volume,” “yard,” “power,” and “area.   (Sherman, Richardson, and Yard, 2014)




I feel as a future teacher it is vital to understand why children don’t enjoy/understand the maths that is being taught and I feel this has close links to Ma’s concept of teachers acquiring a profound understanding of mathematics in order to teach mathematics effectively. I feel a teachers job is to consider both environmental an personal motivators within peoples feelings towards maths and attempt to teach in a way that is universal, so that all children can understand to some degree. Having a PUFM will by and large take care of he environmental factors as a teacher would b teaching in a way that promotes the basic ideas, through multiple perspectives, connecting different mathematical ideas together, while understanding what each student has already done and where they are going (longitudinal coherence). If a teacher has a strong understanding of PUFM I feel the environmental factors that prohibit students during maths lessons are taken care of

However the personal and individual factors that can cause a dislike for maths can be far harder to counteract, and I feel it is the role of any good teacher of any subject to address these with students at a personal, individual level. giving students the tools to address their own issues with learning is a vital part of being a teacher; whether it be showing different revision methods, practicing older knowledge, extra help within lessons or simply sitting down and talking to children about their anxiety’s can be a huge help in dealing wit their personal motivators.

looking into what makes children dislike maths has informed me on a personal and professional level and I feel that it will help my understanding of the way children learn maths in the future

Sherman, H.J., Richardson, L.I. and Yard, G.J. (2014) Why do students struggle with mathematics. Available at:


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