We are starting with a short ‘presentation’. Our aim is stimulate your thinking in the hope that we will get some good discussion in the following hour.
Maths ‘Phobia’ the term has certain cache but we are talking about a spectrum on which maths ‘phobia’ sits at one end. So lets say maths ‘anxious’ Lots of people Different backgrounds We have a video Focuses on maths anxiety and overcoming it I want to look at nature of her anxiety and nature of overcoming it So we can draw this out Purpose: so we can help So look at her Draw out your empathic response Simple definition for focus
So look at her Draw out your empathic response Simple definition for focus
Make notes if you want After I will draw out a few points
Would you like to jot down…..
These are my reflections with which you might or might not agree…. Stimulate discussion …
Lets start by considering what maths is, the nature of the subject
I wonder how you are reacting to this list? My guess is that some of you are happy – this list is confirming what you always thought. Others are starting to lose confidence in me. You might even be getting angry. Perhaps you will feel happier if I add the slide’s title. These are commonly held views about maths but I’m doubt that anyone here who has studied maths to a higher level would agree with them. I would like to suggest, and this could be discuss ed in the groups, that ‘maths’, in and of itself should not be frightening. So, if you will accept that these commonly held views about maths are myths, where do they come from? Kogelman and Warren (1979) defined twelve myths / common misunderstandings which lead to maths anxiety and avoidance.
To answer this question we need to consider the social context in which maths is encountered. This is another point that could be discussed in the groups. All I wish to do now is to throw out a few ideas that might provoke further debate Many primary teachers, some secondary maths teachers and many in support roles don’t like maths Their anxiety may be passed on as a general undefined lack of enthusiasm or may be much more blatant. For example the primary teacher who punishes her class if they don’t behave well by giving them maths on Friday afternoon. Teach it as they learnt it – As a closed uncreative subject, answers right or wrong, and worse still method right or wrong, red crosses This is not only a travesty of what maths really is but also shows a real ignorance of the maths education research which identifies different learning styles . Grasshopper – straight to the answer – does not want to write anything down. Inchworm – wants to write everything down – often gets angry with maths books that seem to leave out half the working out. Discipline . Older students often talk of suffering actual physical violence – ruler on the back of the hand. This would no longer happen but the ‘violence’ involved in, for example, being asked to answer a question in front of the class when you don’t understand and the laughter if it is wrong should not be underestimated.
-Why do you have an accountant? It’s OK to admit you need someone else to deal with the figures. You would be less likely to say you need a secretary because you can’t spell or read. But when you employ a worker in the age of calculators you still want them to be able to do what you can’t do – fractions and long division. Maths is logical. If the employers were looking for evidence of logical thinking, rather than the application of rules, I’d be happy. Perception of mathematically gifted: 'strange' 'exceptionally intelligent' 'frightening' etc. Warding off the evil sprit. Perhaps it is this perception that leads me to my final point. Many of you come from the world of Dyslexia / Dyscalculia Support. You may share this view of mathematicians. You may have experienced them to be inflexible and authoritarian, some school maths teachers are. You might be more than happy to identify with the first part of this presentation which focused on the need to use empathy to understand maths phobia. Indeed it seems to me to have become so well accepted in your world that a belief has grown that empathy is all that is needed.
We are now going to break into groups to discuss this. Before we go I’d like to draw this presentation together with one suggestion Empathy is very important but it is not enough.
Understanding Maths Phobia The purpose of this event is to provide a reflective space in which we as professionals from a great many different backgrounds can share our ideas and experiences with the aim of developing our ability to help maths phobic students to deal with the demands of their chosen degree.
The format of the event1. A 25 minute presentation to stimulate and give direction to your thinking2. 1 hour of facilitated discussion in small groups. Each group is requested to make some notes.3. 30 minutes to eat the light supper provided and look at the notes of the other groups.
Empathy• Sensing another person’s private world as if it were one’s own• Being able to communicate this understanding• verbally and non-verbally• in a manner tuned to the other’s feelings
Katy• What do you learn from the video about the experience of maths anxiety?
At this point a video was shown a short armature video was shown.The video was made at Loughborough and shows one of their students talking about her experiences. She was happy for this to be shown to a small group of people but has not given permission for it to be put on the internet.She is a mature student in her mid twenties who first talks freely about her school experience and the development of her anxiety. She also tells us about the impact her maths anxiety had on her personal development. She then tells us about overcoming the effect of the anxiety, passing her GCSE maths and later the maths modules in her degree. She is clear about the coping strategies she has developed but tells us that the anxiety will never go away.The following slides give a good impression of what she said.
Reflection• Not understanding – anxiety• Getting behind – more anxiety• ‘may seem simple to others’ – humiliation• Trying to control anxiety as well as learn maths• ‘I SHOULD be able to’• Anxiety → panic attacks → generalised fear
• Coping strategies – Deep breathing – Thinking positively – Little chunk at a time – Build on past sense of achievement – Determination “I don’t want these difficulties to hinder me further”
“People are not disturbed by things but by the views which they take of them” Epictetus
• Is it maths itself which is disturbing, or is it the way in which it is viewed?
Common Misunderstandings Maths requires a good memory Maths is not creative Maths is always right or wrong There is a best way to do a maths problem Men are better than womenKogelman and Warren (1979) Mind Over Math, McGraw-Hill, New York, pp30 –42
Sources of misunderstandings and anxiety• Teachers – don’t like maths • Pass on their own attitudes – teach it as they learnt it, badly • As a closed, cold and uncreative subject – fail to distinguish different learning styles • Grasshoppers and inchworms ⇒ belief that failure to understand is the result of a lack of effort or attention • punish this ‘bad behaviour’.
Compounding the problem Society:– Why do you have an accountant?– Employers– Perception of mathematically gifted • strange exceptionally intelligent frightening‘ • Lacking in empathy⇒ belief (especially in the world of the support services) that empathy ALONE is sufficient to teach maths to the maths phobic
How do we help?Maths tutors need to develop BOTH empathy and an appreciation of maths as acreative and satisfying subject