Friday, July 18, 2008

A-squared Plus B-squared Equals C-squared

I was over on CNN.com this morning and read an article about frustrated parents teaching their kids math "old school" style. You know, things like long division written out by hand. Apparently, teachers are more about the theory behind math rather than the rote application of it.

In the end...it's kind of all the same to me.



I hate math. No, I mean I really hate math. A lot.

And I don't think I'm alone.

I can't balance a checkbook without a calculator. I'm grateful every day for online banking that means I don't even need to do that now. All throughout school, though, nothing about math made sense to me. I just. Didn't. Get. It. Math did not compute. Don't even get me started on the time I walked into a calculus class to find the test I thought was the following Wednesday was, in fact, that Wednesday. As in, three minutes from when I walked into class. I almost fainted, and my ears buzzed. It was like every teenage nightmare of showing up to school in your underwear from every bad high school movie.

For a chronic honor roll student, being bad at math was seriously bad news. Math was consistently my lowest grade, right down there with my Physical Education grade. Yeah, I'm not athletic either.

The fact is, a lot of students have math anxiety. It's something teachers have to deal with all the time. So, I was wondering what, exactly, do teachers learn to cope with this phenomenon of evil (aka mathematics).

For the geekly librarian that I am, that means looking it up. Searching for online articles in education databases. What have teachers written or said about math anxiety? How do they cope with it?

To find out, I could go to the Marriott Library homepage, clicking on Article Databases under Research Tools, and then using the drop down menu for Select Database by Subject and selecting Education.

Now there are a lot of Education databases to choose from, and many of them would probably work, but I'm going to go for ERIC. Once I click on that database to access it, I can type in my search for education and mathematics anxiety.

I get all kinds of articles and conference reports about how teachers cope with math anxiety and how to help students get past it so they can grasp the topic more easily.

Interesting stuff. I'm not sure it'll ever make me like math, but it's good to know that the education field recognizes the issue and is making strides to help students overcome it. There are all kinds of articles in education databases, on everything from teaching and learning foreign language skills, arts in school, special education, and a lot more.

2 comments:

zac said...

Thanks for the post, Crystal. It triggered several thoughts.

(1) Yes, lots of teachers are "more about the theory behind math rather than the rote application of it."

This is a serious problem and one that leads to a lot of math anxiety.

(2) Yes, online banking does the work for you now. But the US would be in much less of a financial mess if people realised that banks rely very much on people's fear and avoidance of math. How did the financial institutions manage to loan so many billions to people who had not hope of paying it back? (answer: those suckers had no idea what they were getting into) How come the public accept it when banks pay a pittance in interest on deposits, then charge a fortune on credit card debt? (Once again, people believe it is OK to "pay later" and don't realise the implications.)

(3) Yes, there has been a lot written about math anxiety. Unfortunately, most teachers get so bogged down with other moronic admin stuff, they don't get the time to read any of this research.

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