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Name: Ms. Nisha Pai
Post: Math Teacher
Description:
Article:

HOW TO MAKE STUDENTS OVERCOME MATHS ANXIETY

“Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics; I assure you that mine are greater.” -Albert Einstein.

Even though children are born with a natural curiosity for learning, this is not the same as being born with an ability to do math. No child comes into the world immediately able to do long division and complex multiplication. But can we assume that all children, with the exception of those with significant learning disabilities, are born with the ability to learn math?

 

Math anxiety is a phenomenon that is often considered when examining students' problems in mathematics. Math anxiety is defined as "a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance". It is determined that math anxiety is related to poor math performance on math achievement tests, negative attitudes concerning math and is directly connected with math avoidance.

 

Math requires a lot of attentiveness and concentration to do the sums correctly. Most students now days, have low attention spans and are interested in readymade answers. There is no space for rote learning in math as each sum is different from the other. So, students are generally found to avoid situations in which they have to perform mathematical calculations. Unfortunately, math avoidance results in less competency, exposure and math practice, leaving students more anxious and mathematically unprepared to achieve.

 

Many a times the teachers find it a daily struggle to teach students math.So how can teachers help students overcome their fear of math? How can they instill a love of a subject that so many students find intimidating?

 

The first step is to build confidence.As Teachers, we have to provide students with regular confidence-building exercises that look challenging but enabling them to do well. They also have to be made aware that making mistakes is natural. Even experts make mistakes. This will boost their confidence and self-efficacy and decrease anxiety and fear. The parents also have to be involved and get their children to practice more and more sums so that the children become confident. In Math, the saying ‘Practice makes perfect‘holds true.

 

Strengthen students’ basic skills. Students have to be made aware that practice alone can help them master the essential skills for computational fluency. When students don’t have the basic skills at hand, they get distracted, bored and discouraged doing the basic long division and multiplication. Getting students to practice mental math and basic math skills regularly by, incorporating games and warm-up activities can help them to strengthen their interest in computations and overall intelligence. The students should be thorough with their addition and multiplication tables.

 

Use a step-by-step approach. Even strong students of math can feel daunted and overwhelmed when there is too much information at once and not enough time to practice. The idea of the teacher should be to explain problems / theorems step by step so that students are able to understand and master one step before moving to the next. A gap in understanding can become a huge obstacle to progress, so it is very necessary that students fully understand each step before moving on. Skipping steps will most likely lead to mistakes and make it even more difficult to decipher where they went wrong.

 

Develop a growth mindset. The belief that our abilities can be developed – have illuminated the role of student effort and self-efficacy, and gained significant footing in educational practice. Students should be made to accept that math problems are just like the computer gaming levels that they spend so much time to crack. Trying and cracking a math problem will give them the same intellectual high, so make it challenging. By giving students problems that get harder, teachers can show them that they can surmount any challenge through hard work and practice. Again ‘Practice makes perfect’ holds true.

 

The attitude of teachers.Teachers are instrumental in creating positive and active learning environments, by incorporating math puzzles and games into explanations and examples that will make math interesting. Children have either a ‘growth mindset’ or a ‘fixed mindset’. The development of these mindsets happens over time and comes from experience. If they face problems they can’t solve on a regular basis, they are likely to assume that they have no ability in that area. So teachers and parents have to work together to build the right mindset in children so that they realize they can strengthen their math skills with practice.As a result children will see math as fun, enjoy it, and, the joy of mathematics could remain with them throughout the rest of their lives.

 

In conclusion, math anxiety is very real and occurs among thousands of people. Today, the needs of society require a greater need for mathematics. Math must be looked upon in a positive light to reduce math anxiety and teachers and parents should work in tandem to ensure that students find math interesting.

 

-       Nisha Pai


References:-

1)    Mathematical anxiety - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

             https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_anxiety

2)    How can teachers help students overcome their fear of maths?  By Ewart Newton

https://www.britishcouncil.org/

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