An opinion artilcle in the LAtimes tries to come up with answers:
Consider why American kids struggle. Mathematical competence depends on three types of knowledge: having memorized a small set of math facts (like the times table), knowing standard algorithms to solve standard problems (like long division), and understanding why algorithms work (knowing why the standard method of solving long division problems yields the correct answer).
The National Mathematics Advisory Panel concluded U.S. students have adequate knowledge of the first two, but not the third. They can do math (at least, sometimes), but they often don’t understand what they are doing.
Certainly when you are actually good at it. There is no shame in being good at math and it is better to encourage your children to work their best instead of trying to bond with them, complaining about math.
Math anxiety gets developed when teachers or parents talk bad about math in general or talk how bad they are at math themselves. Let’s try to avoid it and help our students tackle the problems with confidence and knowing the getting it wrong only means you’ll learn something new.
From a brand new study: “Teachers, parents, brothers and sisters and classmates can all play a role in shaping a child’s maths anxiety,” study co-author Ros McLellan said in the press release. “Parents and teachers should also be mindful of how they may unwittingly contribute to a child’s maths anxiety. Tackling their own anxieties and belief systems in maths might be the first step to helping their children or students.”
See the wonderful advice on working towards eliminating math anxiety for your child. Best quote:
The article gives a list of reasons people have anxiety and a few suggestions how to overcome math anxiety. You might like to know writers have suggested that a young Albert Einstein was rubbish at mental arithmetic, a teachers even famously said he wouldn’t amount to anything! However with the help of his mother and a different style of teaching at a new school he was propelled towards his genius discoveries.
A new study shows that although boys and girls showed more or less equal levels of math anxiety and performed similarly at the arithmetic task, correlation analyses showed that only in girls, math anxiety significantly correlated with math performance. Analyses investigating if math anxiety moderated the effect of gender and grade on math performance revealed significant differences between boys and girls. Higher levels of math anxiety only significantly and negatively moderated math performance in girls, with the greatest effect observed in 2nd grade girls.
For people who break out in sweat when thinking about doing math a solution maybe nearby:
For people who have a really hard time doing math, “their brain is not functioning properly” in the area that governs this ability, explained Dr. Cohen Kadosh. “They have abnormalities in the anatomy … and they have lower activation” in part of the brain.
Using electrical current to simulate the brain, he said, “is just like giving the neurons an energy drink so they are able to perform much better.”
It doesn’t look good. The article in the link for today is about math anxiety being contagious but they first refer to some worrying statistics:
A research study in the journal Education finds that 71% of Americans cannot calculate gas mileage, 58% cannot figure a tip, and 78% do not have the skills to compute loan interest. How do people manage these routine calculations when they have no idea how to do them? Research suggests they estimate — and “pad” their estimation. In other words, they overpay. Imagine how much money they lose by avoiding simple math.
“Maths anxiety is often confused with dyscalculia, or maths disability,” says Trupti Talekar, a Mumbai-based clinical psychologist. “Emotional disturbance that negatively affects the child’s maths performance is what constitutes maths anxiety. (On the other hand) dyscalculia is an academic disability: a skill deficit that has a neurological basis. Both can occur separately or together.”
More and more colleges are no longer looking at SAT or ACT results to predict college success. The University of Chicago today joined in that group. Their reasoning is that minorities are intimidated by the SAT and ACT and thus do not have a fair opportunity to apply, another reason should be that it has been clear for a while that SAT and ACT are not good college success predictors.
On top of Dyscalculia, also Test anxiety can make the problem a lot worse. It does not really matter if dyscalculia caused the test anxiety or that the child developed a math learning disability due to the test anxiety, the fact is that it is there and now how do you help them get over it? See our link for today for more.
A letter to the editor of the FT about an article they ran a while ago. The article suggested that everyone should have math education until age 18. The writer of the letter to the editor maintains that children who have trouble with math should not be forced to take math until 18. Here is the concluding quote:
Forcing children who don’t have mathematical brains to study it not only destroys their self-confidence but can destroy that most precious joy, the joy of learning. Maths can ruin lives as well as make them.
Because of the societal stigma that comes with struggling with maths, people seem to think it’s acceptable to laugh about it. Working in a pub, I try and stick to waitressing as often as possible to get out of working the till, as I often come across customers who decide that my hesitance and double or triple checking of their change is something to laugh at or comment on. I don’t think they realise how patronising and embarrassing it is – and I don’t help myself by laughing it off or preempting it with a “bear with me, I’m awful at maths” – it’s just that I can’t look at a handful of change and tell you if it’s correct without second-guessing myself.
Research findings suggest that cognitive and emotional mathematics problems largely dissociate and call into question the assumption that high mathematics anxiety is exclusively linked to poor mathematics performance.
Great quote: The labelling of some students sends negative messages about potential, that are out of synch with important knowledge of neuroplasticity showing that everyone’s brains can grow and change. But few people realize that those labels are damaging for those who receive them too.
A conference was held and this was one of the tips by a specialist. Please read the whole article in the link and download the conference papers for much more information.
I use Facebook for setting up study groups for my non-specialist students. My rationale is to address anxiety by connecting with students without intruding into their personal territory i.e. becoming their Facebook friends. Facebook allows academics to use an online system for posting topics for discussions, addressing students’ queries, uploading course material and monitoring their progress. These study groups are easy to set up and promote inclusive education. It is a platform students are used to and view positively.
See in our link for today how kids with dyscalculia suffer in class. Don’t let them suffer, be proactive, get them tested, get them accommodations, find a tutor. Trouble with math should be taken seriously and a quick test will give information that could lead to avoiding a childhood with trouble at school.