When the word “Maths” is mentioned my automatic response and thoughts are the words of “fear’, “dread” and “complete horror”. It is a subject I can’t remember being taught in primary school but however in secondary, it was an unpleasant subject. I have always had negative vibes about maths and always stuck by “if you don’t get it, you never will”.
The reason I chose this elective was to conquer my maths anxiety and gain experience and more confidence within the subject. Although my experience throughout secondary school was negative, the main reason being the influence of teachers and their ways of teaching, I ended up receiving one on one lessons with a private tutor. She was amazing and helped me power my way through the third year of sitting National 5 maths…which yes after 3 years I passed at a B down to her!
I believe I will follow her steps throughout my teaching career and teach children many different solutions to figure out the correct answer to allow children to pick what strategy works best for them. As explained by Boaler (2009)teachers must not dictate a child’s level of work and assign them to low levels based on early years testing or statistics. Children must be given work that is challenging and interesting so that they gain the confidence they need to improve at maths. It is all about keeping up with the curriculum and recognise that children learn at different stages and rates unlike the way my secondary teachers seemed to teach. By allowing children to experience and try out solutions which suits them best, it gives pupils a sense of control and ownership through their own work leading to positive self-worth.
When we think about Mathematics, is it just me that thinks… Algebra, Pythagaras and Standard Deviation. Well after research and actually thinking into depth about everyday life maths, it has made me realise maths is everywhere!! When you buy your new jeans out of new look? Weighing your ingredients for baking a cake? Or even cutting and sharing your domino’s pizza with your flat mates? This is why everyday maths must be explained and shown to children as soon as they come into primary education, as they are likely to enjoy and engage with the subject if it has a meaning towards it. It is important that we as teachers or parents allow children to have the experience of hands on maths such as them wearing a watch to tell you the time or helping calculate the shopping list (Eastaway, 2010). It is important children develop the basic maths skills so that they are able to use their knowledge for everyday tasks and simple problem solving. As said by Ma (2010)“Mathematics use and value different approaches to solving problems whether they are arithmetical properties or relationships”.
Maths anxiety occurs through parental involvement throughout a young age if parents are not engaged in the children’s maths homework or activities. If parents play a role model in making maths exciting and hands on, then children are more likely to see the positives towards the subject. Parents tend to think that maths is a school-based subject and therefore avoid the content of it but by them demonstrating a lack of every maths, the children are going to be led in the same way (New York times, 2017).Maths anxiety which was first identified in the 1950s is said to affect at least a quarter of school children alone (Guardian, 2012).This article explains the importance of recognising this fear within children as this concept of maths anxiety is said to be similar to the fear of spiders or snakes in some people. We must not pressure our children into any forms of assessment or testing and allow children to work through reasonable stages of the subject through their own progression. We must not assume or expect children to get the correct answer the first time because it may take a while for them to become familiar with what stages they must carry out to achieve the final answer (Eastaway, 2010). It is important to encourage the children to be proud of their mathematical skills and focus on the understanding rather than the idea of setting standards.
In conclusion through the introduction of maths anxiety and based on experiences from myself and others I am very excited looking forward to becoming engaged in this module. I hope it I will be able to help overcome my maths anxiety and allow me to gain the confidence to correctly teach children throughout my career to have a positive approach towards the subject.
Below I have attached a Ted Talks video which I enjoyed watching and felt inspired to conquer my maths fear after watching as Dan Finkel states the way maths should be taught. He starts of by saying many people either claim they love/hate maths and why that it is seen as a “can or can’t do” subject.
Not knowing is not failure, it is the first step towards understanding”.
Boaler, J. (2009) The Elephant in the Classroom. London: Souvenir Press Ltd.
Eastaway, R. (2010) Maths for mums and dads. London: Square Peg.
Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics – Teachers’ Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics in China and The United States.London: Routledge.
The Guardian. (2012) “Maths Anxiety: the numbers are mounting”. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/apr/30/maths-anxiety-school-support (Accessed 30 October 2018).
The New York Times. (2017) “Fending Off Math Anxiety”. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/well/family/fending-off-math-anxiety.html (Accessed 30 October 2018).
Video- TEDX Talks (2016) “Five principles of Extraordinary math teaching” Dan Finkel. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytVneQUA5-c (Accessed 30 October 2018).