Does math make you anxious? In the book "Who's Afraid of Maths & Science? All you ever wanted to know but were too scared to ask," author Dr. Ken Burchett states that not being good at math doesn't mean you have lower intellect.
When you attempt to learn math against your will, chances are you'll have trouble understanding it, display mental resistance, and may even get demotivated.
Not only this, but sometimes math aversion can also result in pain, where an ordinary thought of sitting in a math exam or test can cause nausea, migraines, ulcers, and panic attacks.
On the other hand, students who enjoy mathematical concepts such as equivalent fractions, Pythagorean theorem, fractions, and geometry see it as nothing more than a fun activity or puzzle. They find fun in solving math problems and remain motivated.
What differentiates the two? Is there any feasible way to overcome the fear of math and cope with its anxieties better? And why do some love mathematics while others fear it?
Without further ado, let's delve into knowing why you have maths phobia!
Can A Bad Experience At School Cause Math Phobia?
If you ask a math lover what they don't like about the subject, most would say that it's the conventional academic way of learning mathematics!
Most mathematics courses are non-interactive; they progress slowly with the explanation of rules and training. Since the approach lacks 'real-world knowledge,' it hardly gets students' attention.
To put it simply, math is boring. School courses are filled with textbook worksheets, exercises, and a lot of homework with one aim: to complete the curriculum in a specific time.
And on top of that, this seemingly dull subject is often associated with higher intelligence at schools – students performing well at maths are considered able and intelligent. At the same time, those who aren't are termed 'bad' students with lower intellect.
As a result, would-be bright students are dismayed by education as a whole, disregarding all the other subjects as well.
Believe it or not, but the fear of mathematics begins early (from your school), where teachers teach non-interactive math lessons that fail to garner the interest and focus of the students.
Instead of changing the modus operandi, schools and teachers label students with 'good' and 'bad' at maths tags.
The world is full of people who are excellent at maths; simultaneously, you'll find many others who struggle and hate the subject.
So, why is it that some fear it to the point of deciding their future careers around avoiding it, while others possess an inherent love for all things arithmetic?
Ask a math lover if they have difficulties solving a question, and they will probably say no; in fact, they will tell you that their passion for maths (numbers and equations) started early.
And this affinity for the subject stems from solving thought-provoking puzzles such as "Peter has 12 marbles. John has 5. How many…".
From school to college and university to professional life, they find little difficulty and greater pleasure in solving mathematical problems.
So, what makes them different than those fearing math?
To be good at maths, you have to be good at synthesizing information, train your intuition, and be creative.
Besides the usual learning resources, you should also resort to using creative tools and apps to make the experience more fun.
Furthermore, some people make pseudo-scientific arguments about being either left or right-brained and justify their lack of arithmetic knowledge.
However, that is flawed. We can't say that every good mathematician is left-brained – the theory claims people are either right-brained (artistic or creative) or left-brained (methodological or analytical), meaning one side is dominant.
In fact, the two sides of the brain work together. For example, if the left part deals with data manipulation, the right side handles the overview and simultaneity. So, whatever the subject – be it mathematics or otherwise – humans use both parts of the brain.
Want a helping hand with your maths? Check out Superprof's professional online math tutor profiles here!
Why Is Mathematics So Painful For Some?
The anticipation of an aversive activity causes heightened pain perception. To put it simply, when you think about tense situations, it automatically triggers the part of your brain connected with pain.
Similarly, the phobia of math is also connected to emotions. Mathematics is so deeply rooted in painful feelings that it can paralyze a pupil, compelling them to freeze at the sight of a math problem, no matter how easy or difficult.
For example, when faced with a square root problem, they may think about their place within the family; or if they attempt to solve the quadratic equation, unexpressed worries can pop up.
Likewise, a trauma experienced by an individual at schools, such as the terrifying shame of solving a math problem in front of peers and teachers, can cause the same effect.
Therefore, if students and teachers don't address the fear of maths in their students, it can result in much more than just low grades; it can cause lingering self-esteem issues.
Why Do So Many People Hate Mathematics?
Math is a subject that demands regular practice, effort, memory, and training. It's essential to maintain consistent learning progress to make sure that students don't end up hating other subjects as well.
Cognitive inhibition associated with mathematics is often connected to bad 'painful' memories of particular maths teachers.
Strict, cold, unsmiling, and highly contemptuous are some descriptions that pop up in the memories of afflicted students. There is a good chance you remember your mathematics teacher from school while reading this!
Many reputed scholars and researchers have said time and again that there's no mathematics without shedding tears; this includes both the difficulties endured and the happiness of discovery.
Since mathematics is abstract and exclusively taught by the school teacher, shutting off from the educator means you cut yourself off from mathematics. Mostly, students don't receive the attention and help they deserve.
That's why it's crucial to address the relational disorder or phobia of maths at the earliest. Parents need to talk with the teachers and schools on this issue and place a support system at home. For speedy and effective outcomes, seek the assistance of a professional child psychologist.
Is There Any Way To Overcome Your Math Anxiety?
The benefits of learning math are many, provided it is taught correctly with the right approach and technique. And if you have math anxiety, you must overcome them if you want success.
Here, parents can play a crucial role in elevating their children's confidence by motivating them to do better.
Teachers can do the same by appreciating any little progress their student makes. They should also remember never to punish them in front of their peers, listen to their worries and fears, and most of all, make sure they learn maths while having fun.
So, the causes of why some fear mathematics are many, from natural aptitude to a painful experience in maths subject while you're in school, and more. These phobias often carry over into adulthood and affect learning.
Is there any practical solution?
Well, there's no one solution to it. To overcome the fear of maths, you'll have to choose private classes provided by Superprof's skilled math tutors and a therapy consultation to conquer maths blockages.