Educational Elixar

Iddir's Ideas and thoughts on all things Educational !

Things are getting interesting …


Having already established in my previous post, I really was not a lover of maths (note the past tense) it would appear that the subject is warming on me.

Let me explain why.

Having recently opted to embark upon the discovering mathematics elective module I walked into the first lecture feeling rather nervous. I should not have been. Within five minutes I was feeling super excited and not at all nervous.

Ok, so excited and maths are definitely two words that I would never normally paired but when the lecturer (whom I shall refer to here on in as Mathew) oozes enthusiasm and is clearly and obviously  extremely excited about the subject, it becomes increasingly difficult not to swept up in the tide of excitement alongside him.

Suffice to say I left that lecture with a completely different attitude towards the subject.

Cue lecturer 2 (who shall be named Matilda) who like Mathew was super excitable and passionate about what she was teaching. Again I found myself, in her lecture, in the strange situation of feeling excited about Math!

I now understood why I had been feeling the way I had previously been feeling about maths… I had maths anxiety! The realisation that this was in fact a real problem made me feel strangely calm and with a need to find out more about this new “condition” and what it meant for me as a learner and indeed as an educator.

During the course of my research I came across an interesting journal article;

“Although many children encounter difficulties in arithmetic, the underlying cognitive and emotive factors are still not fully understood.” (Mamarella et al, 2015, p2)

Their study, which is ongoing, looked at verbal and visuospatial
short-term memory (STM) and working memory (WM) performance in
children with developmental dyscalculia and mathematics anxiety in
comparison to typically developing children. Their findings showed
that children with high math anxiety had a poorer performance than
the control group of typically developing children in the visiuospatial
element of WM and as such it is important to recognise that this can
have educational and clinical implications.
The study goes on to discuss a variety of interesting facts and was
actually a really interesting read but what I took from it and what my
understanding is is that as teachers we must be aware that math
anxiety can be a real stumbling block in the way in which children
learn and we must be mindful of that when  lesson planning.
We should also be looking at ways in which to alleviate the anxiety in the first instance.
For more information on STM and WM click here

I am, by nature, extremely curious and when something intrigues me it becomes almost a challenge to find out more. Not merely in terms of satisfying my own curiosity but also in order to develop my own understanding and confidence.

During this lecture we were presented with a maths problem to solve:

“In a warehouse you can obtain 15% discount but you must pay 20% VAT. Which way would you prefer your final bill to be calculated: with discount first or with VAT first?”

Clearly this is a pretty basic problem to solve, but the point of the task or rather what I took from the task, was the intention was not to feel smug about working the problem out but rather in the understanding of the why and how different people work things out. The group I was working with had various methods and various starting points and this enabled me  to see that although our answers were the same there were multiple ways that we used in order to get to that point.

My point…

Children are no different.


Irene C. Mammarella, Francesca Hill, Amy Devine, Sara Caviola & DénesSzűcs (2015) Math anxiety and developmental dyscalculia: A study on working memory processes, Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 37:8, 878-887, DOI:10.1080/13803395.2015.1066759

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