But it is not the only discipline that requires such efforts. So why then does phobia of math exist and how to combat it? What is Math phobia: definition and symptoms Many renowned scholars have given great recognition to mathematics that is considered to be a difficult subject. This thought rests in the heads of students and they result in poor performing and development of math phobia.
However, reasons for this phobia are much more various. Math phobia is a feeling of anxiety that appears because of solving different mathematical problems. Apart from anxiety, some people call math phobia a tension, panic, helplessness, and mental disorganization.
Possession of a prolonged phobia feeling can have a negative impact on health issues and desire to learn the following subject further. That is why any phobia should be eliminated at the very beginning not to evolve into more serious problems. By giving students problems that get harder, you can show them they can surmount any challenge through hard work and practice.
Learning how and why to teach maths in ways that build understanding and excitement can really help reduce maths anxiety in teachers themselves. Professional development also helps teachers network with fellow educators to mentor and support each other in teaching mathematics.
Helping students with maths anxiety to conquer their fear will enable them to fulfil their maths potential and broaden their career options, to the benefit of the Australian economy. Bindaas Madhavi In the classroom The classroom is an ideal place in which negative stereotypes and myths about maths can be debunked and positive attitudes towards maths can be modelled.
This type of supportive environment could encourage students to have a go without fear. In order to do this, students should feel that maths is just like any other subject and hard work will bring about improvement.
Parents and teachers can help their students to understand that things like gender stereotypes and negative peer culture need not limit their mathematical choices. Students should also be made aware of the many applications of maths in many careers and life pathways. Armed with this outlook, students will be able to fulfil their maths potential and make choices based on factors other than anxiety.
Researchers have two ideas about how math anxiety might develop. One idea is that children who struggle with learning numbers when they are very young are more likely to develop math anxiety when they start going to school.
This idea has not yet been tested in children. One study that gives an example of this showed that teachers with high math anxiety were more likely to have students with poorer math achievement at the end of the school year [ 4 ]. This study suggests that the way the teacher acted somehow affected the math ability of the students. Although researchers have not yet answered the question of what comes first, math ability or math anxiety, there have been many important discoveries that have given us hints about when and how math anxiety appears.
To better understand how math anxiety develops and how to help people who suffer with it, we need to understand what is happening in brain while a person with math anxiety is doing math. One idea is that the human brain can only process a certain amount of information at a time.
A system in the brain that allows us to process information is called working memory. Working memory is a part of the human memory system that allows us to remember and think about several things at the same time. This skill is very important for doing math.
For example, if a teacher reads out a math problem, the student must hold all numbers in his or her mind, consider the steps needed to solve the problem, and write out the answer at the same time.
Researchers think that maybe, when people feel anxious, the math anxiety that they feel is using up some of their working memory, so they do not have enough working memory left to solve the math problem. Maybe the working memory that is being used for the anxiety would have been used for solving the math problem if those people did not feel so anxious [ 3 ]. In other words, math anxiety causes students to think and worry about how afraid they feel of math, which occupies the working memory resources that they would otherwise use to do the math problems.
This idea that math anxiety uses working memory has been supported by research studies. Importantly, researchers have reported that children who have a high level of working memory do better on math tests than children with a low level of working memory. Researchers have also examined how hard different parts of the brain are working while children with either high or low math anxiety solve challenging math problems [ 5 ].
These researchers asked a group of 7- to 9-year-old children with and without math anxiety to do some math problems while they were in a device called a magnetic resonance imaging MRI scanner [ 5 ]. An MRI scanner is a machine that can be used to measure how hard each region of the brain is working during a specific task using a tool called functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI.
See Figure 2 for a picture of an MRI scanner. These researchers found that a part of the brain called the amygdala is more activated working harder in children with high math anxiety than in children with low math anxiety.
Also, in children with high math anxiety, the areas of the brain that deal with working memory and mathematical processing called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the intraparietal sulcus are less activated working less hard compared with those brain areas in children who have low math anxiety [ 5 ]. The amygdala is a small almond-shaped structure in the lower middle part of the brain and it is important for experiencing and processing emotions, including fear and anxiety.
The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is a larger part of the brain located at the very front of the brain, and it is involved in many complicated behaviors, such as planning and decision making.
For now, whether you are experiencing math anxiety or not, talk to your fellow students and your teachers about math anxiety. Undoubtedly, maths is one of the most difficult subjects at school. I want to understand what happens in the brain while children develop and learn math. People with phobophobia think they most likely have a phobia, but they cannot figure out just what it is. Possession of a prolonged phobia feeling can have a negative impact on health issues and desire to learn the following subject further.