Arithmophobia – the irrational fear of numbers.
Let’s face it: math can be a nightmare to teach, and learn. Most students panic at the sight of numbers; their fear overwhelms them and causes a resistance towards understanding the question in front of them. Decades ago, we were taught to memorise facts as opposed to understanding them. While that worked to a certain extent, it has also increased our distaste in mathematics over the years. As educators, we need to teach students perseverance, and ignite their curiosity in numbers. By using logical and organised processes, we can teach students how to make sense of problems in order to tackle them.
Here are some daily practises that can ease the fear of mathematics:
- Reading In order to comprehend problems better, have your students read the problem aloud, be it on a personal level or within a group. Reading and understanding goes hand-in-hand, therefore it is important to instil this common practice in your students. This simple act of reading aloud improves focus and comprehension.
- Thinking Before attempting to solve a problem, encourage your students to take a few minutes to digest the question. Ask them to reread the problem several times. Have them visualise what is happening. Draw or map out elements to further evaluate the situation. Drawings, charts, and maps can help gather key ideas or details down on paper for a clear visual definition.
- Talking Have your students gather for group discussions or brainstorming sessions. Cooperative problem solving and the art of partnering brings different perspectives and operations to the table. Sharing ideas and openly conversing about problems either before or after students complete a task can provide new insights into alternate strategies and responses.
Though these are small and simple steps, the eventual outcome will be that students will look at numbers and problems in a more positive and independent manner.