India, June 2016. Mathematics is the only world where you can buy 84 watermelons and no one wonders why!
Among the numerous phobias that affect people, the fear of numbers is a typical one. I mean they are just figures on paper, but they have the capacity to scare the living daylights out of some people. Called as Numerophobia, the fear of numbers is guilty of making many students lose confidence.
Almost everyone at some stage of the other had this immense hatred towards mathematics and saw it as a horrible demon. There was a debate in the New York Times paper that went “Is Algebra Necessary?” The author went on to say that higher math was unnecessary in high school and failing in algebra lead to many students losing confidence.
It might be because of perception or the way it is being taught, mathematics is seen as a thing that only geniuses can master. It has gone to such epic proportions that there is an anxiety of mathematics. Math anxiety is a feeling of anxiety and tension that interferes with solving of math problems.
In a school, at an average, there are so many math tests that there is every chance that math anxiety can reach a peak. Failed students feel embarrassed and lose their confidence levels. This issue can be so sensitive that some students never want to do math again.
In a minority of students, there is a condition called dyscalculia. This is seen as a mathematics learning disability. There is trouble counting, memorizing and processing. Dyscalculia might show its ugly face right from the kindergarten age. Such children have trouble understanding that a number can represent groups, and they tend to skip numbers while counting.
Students with dyscalculia cannot understand plus and minus signs, they don’t understand more than, and less than, and use their hands to count. This trouble can last throughout their lives if not corrected. Dyscalculia may be caused due to genetics and heredity, improper brain development, or brain injury.
Dyscalculia affects only a minority, yet there are many others who face pressure while learning math. This might manifests in many ways. Here is a list of manifestations that students have:
Many students have these issues and it is for the teachers, instructors, and the parents to identify it as early as possible so that these maladies can be rectified. For this, schools have to make learning math an enjoyable experience. All the negative experiences associated with learning math have to be eliminated.
The market is replete with over the counter solutions for learning math better, but this isn’t enough. Schools have to take special interest and have to instruct their mathematics teachers to lay emphasis on making it fun.
There is no hard way for the hapless students as they have to learn by constant practice, reviewing errors, understanding major concepts, understanding their doubts, and voice them out to the teachers so that they can move ahead. Yet, it is the role of the teachers and the school that is very important. They should be able to clear the mindset of students, and see to it that math is no stigma diabolicum! Teachers have to identify differently-abled students and have to adopt unique strategies for them.
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