Math Phobia

by on April 18, 2012 in Reflections with 1 Comment »


Math is the most feared subject in the American school system. Students ranging from lower-level to college-level seem to dread the subject.

Math phobia is serious issue in America, and many cartoonists and other individuals seem to communicate the issue in funny cartoons to remind us continuously that it’s not an individual problem but the entire county’s problem. The more people become aware of widespread math phobia, the more likely that they will take the necessary steps collectively to address it.

What is the cause of math phobia?

Well, there are a lot of theories floating around from many experts.

Some experts say that some parents are the number-one culprit.  Because many parents lack knowledge of the subject, they cannot help their kids with homework. Instead of the parents admitting to their inadequacies, they cover it up by cultivating negative views about math in front of kids continually. Some may disparage the subject as useless and unnecessary. Imagine kids being exposed to negativity about math from kindergarten up to high school. Eventually, the kids develop a growing fearing of math equivalent to or worse than the fear of snakes and crocodiles.

Another one of the theories suggest that students are afraid of getting wrong answers when doing math problems because they are afraid of been considered stupid in front teachers and their peers, so they begin avoiding the subject at any cost.

Like many other fears, math phobia can be cured by dedicated teachers who care about their students. Parents can address the issue as well by refraining from negative comments about math. Instead, they should provide some positive feedback on homework and also reward kids for their efforts.

Math phobia is not a permanent fixture that cannot be removed. There are steps parents can take to do away with math phobia.

Here are some of my family rules to prevent math phobia.
  1.  I never allow my kids to subscribe to this propaganda that math is a difficult subject. Every Friday evening, after school, they bring home their math books to review math problems over the weekend especially on Sundays. If there are any challenging problems, we will review them together without inflicting any emotional wounds. There are also family activities that involve math, such as baking a cake. Whenever I am baking a cake, the kids will be the ones who are responsible for measuring dry ingredients such as flour, sugar and so on. This helps to enforce their knowledge about fractions and mixed numbers. At the same time, they are able to see applications of fractions in cooking.
  2. Sundays are the best days for kids to practice math problems because Sunday is very close to Monday. They are going back to school on Monday mornings. Therefore, the kids must be prepared and ready to respond to their teachers on a positive note instead of looking dumbfounded in class. Also Sunday is the day to study for upcoming math exams. The art of mastering any math exam is preparation to avoid nervousness during test time.  Therefore my kids must use Sundays not only to re-tune their brains for math exams, but also to prepare for going back to school on Monday mornings.

Well, this is my way of getting rid of math phobia. If you do not like my suggestions, go fly a kite. Or visit websites by others who claim to be experts on math phobia! You can follow their suggestions here.


One Comment on “Math Phobia”

  1. 1 Subscribing to the Global Classroom | The Specialist said at 5:41 pm on May 2nd, 2012:

    […] I used to feel like I wore an imaginary cone-shaped hat with the words DUNCE scribbled in bright red marker in my mathematics classes. The world of numbers and equations was always troublesome for me. My earliest memory of mathematics involves me crying over my workbook in grade school as I struggled with long division. I still have nightmares about that experience. Read more about Math Phobia here. […]

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