I never thought about it before but a lot of things that worry us as adults have to do with numbers: unpaid bills, balancing the checkbook, stretching a dollar, completing tax forms. Even the idea of these activities give many of us stomachaches. Why? According to Deb Russell of About.com a part of the NY Times Company,
Where Does Math Anxiety Come From?
Usually math anxiety stems from unpleasant experiences in mathematics. Typically math phobics have had math presented in such a fashion that it led to limited understanding. Unfortunately, math anxiety is often due to poor teaching and poor experiences in math which typically leads to math anxiety.
It helps to understand the myths associated with math. How many of us believe that men are simply better at math because they are men? Who thinks that there is a math gene? Do you think that the side of your brain responsible for math is weaker than the side if your brain responsible for language?
I say, “balderdash”. None of the above are true and if you think they are then they will be self-fulfilling prophecies. You will make them so because you believe they are so.
We need to model other ideas about math in front of children. We need to model capability, self-confidence, a “can-do” attitude whenever we are confronted with math in our own lives. We can break the cycle of math anxiety for the next generation of children.