Fear of Mathematics

Dec 28, 2018-

Have you ever felt stressed and anxious when your math teacher asks you a question? Or when you are clueless while doing your homework? Or even worse, when you have to sit for the exams? If so, you might have experienced what is called ‘math anxiety’.

Mathematics is a necessary skill that people use throughout their lives—when they travel, use money, or keep track of time. So, mathematics is an important skill to learn at school. But unfortunately, many children and even adults feel stressed and anxious when they have to solve math problems. People who experience stress when faced with math-related situations may be experiencing the math anxiety.

Math anxiety affects many people and is related to poor math ability in school and

later during adulthood. People who have poor mathematical skills aren’t the only one to have this anxiety. When certain people encounter math problem, they can feel pressured to solve the problems properly, which causes them to make more mistakes, and that leads to anxiety.

I too suffer from math anxiety. Some people are very fast at solving math problems, but not me! When I look at a math problem my mind goes completely blank. My heart beats faster and my palms start to sweat. I feel tremendous pain in my head, as if it is going to burst. I feel stupid and sometimes even start crying. This hampers my concentration even further. I can’t even do the simplest thing. In math, there’s always one right answer, and if you can’t derive it, you’ve failed—this makes me crazy.

Some studies suggest that the way children are exposed to math by their parents and teachers play a large part. My parents always talked about math as something challenging and unfamiliar. This led me to avoid math and consequently resulted in more math anxiety. When I was young, I struggled a lot to learn numbers and memorise tables. I used to think math as a monster and had to score good grades, otherwise the monster will kill me! Now I am in the tenth grade and I still have difficulty in math. I have failed in most of my math exams. I feel extremely nervous

while taking math test or facing any situation that requires me to do basic mathematics. I can’t even count numbers or memorise formulas. I can’t even solve the simplest math problem that my friends can very easily accomplish.

Math anxiety is more than feeling nervous about doing math. It’s a sensible reaction to a situation that is actually scary. A person may feel anxious even when they are aware that there is really no reason to feel anxious. According to researchers, math anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as increase in heartbeat, sweating, forgetfulness and low self-confidence. Some psychologists think that math anxiety decreases a cognitive resource called working memory. The working memory is the short-term memory system that helps us to process and organise the information we need to complete a task. In other words, math anxiety causes students to think and worry about their inability to complete simple problems, which occupies the working memory that they would otherwise use to do the math problems.

The main reason for math anxiety may be fear of teacher, peer pressure, parenting problems, timed tests or just the feeling of embarrassment. For now, if you too are experiencing math anxiety, talk to your friends and teachers about it.

It is important to have conversations about your emotional reactions to math because this is the first step towards helping yourself to reduce the potentially harmful effects of math anxiety.


Shiwani Sarraf

Grade 10

Delhi Public School, Dharan

Published: 28-12-2018 08:51

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