07 Jun 2019

Maths Anxiety

Ever felt like you weren’t a ‘maths person’? As if it wasn’t your thing?

Ever had that one negative maths experience that you always remember?

Ever felt nervous or overwhelmed when approaching a task involving numbers?

You may have experienced Maths Anxiety. But, what is it? It is defined as “a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in … ordinary life and academic situations” (Ashcroft, 2002). For some, they are unfortunately born with this feeling. For others, it slowly develops over time due to negative experiences involving maths. This could be that one topic that you couldn’t understand, or that teacher that did not make maths enjoyable.

What can we do? Stanford maths professor, Jo Boaler challenges this idea of people being a ‘maths person or not’. With too many negative experiences stemming from how maths is taught, both in the classroom and at home, something needs to change. As educators at Newington College, we strive to provide learning opportunities that offer the boys authentic maths experiences that help them develop a love for numbers and a resilience to persevere when faced with a difficult problem. Maths should be made relatable to their lives, hands on and engaging.

What about at home? You are your son’s first role model and they look to you for guidance every day. To help foster a love of maths, we need to approach maths with a positive attitude and not allow our experiences to become theirs. Every experience can turn into a positive learning experience through simple questions that promote thought and curiosity. Asking boys to visualise how big a number is, how far a location is from home or even allowing them to pay for items and asking how much change you should expect back. These little and simple questions cannot only help bring a love of maths and numbers now, but a love of maths and numbers for life.

“You don’t have to be a mathematician to have a feel for numbers.” – John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Hugh Tomkins – Learning Enhancement Intern


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Lindfield NSW 2070
+61 2 9416 4280


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