Mathematics is not everyone’s cup of tea but we didn’t imagine that so many students would find it intimidating. In a survey conducted by Cuemath, it was found that almost 82% of students from classes 7 to 10 are fearful of the subject.
Also, there’s a gender gap and girls in class 9 and class 10 are significantly more inconvenienced by the subject. “The gender gap in performance is a worrying trend which can unfairly affect the future lives of millions of girls and dampening their aspirations. The Cuemath survey reinforces the above fact,” Manan Khurma, founder and CEO of Cuemath was quoted as saying by India Today.
While we understand that some students may find the course material challenging, these are still mindboggling numbers and reveals the fallacy of the current teaching system. Some may blame the pandemic for exacerbating the issue since students tend to pay lesser attention to online classes.
Interestingly, the trend isn’t restricted to India alone. According to Marilyn Burns’ 1998 book Math: Facing an American Phonbia, 2/3rds of American fear math.
How to conquer math phobia
Our teachers often give several tips to students suffering from math phobia. They are asked to wake up early in the morning and practice, try deep breathing exercises before starting a lesson, clarify their doubts immediately and take help from classmates.
The war against math phobia can be won and one of the people who proved it was possible was Laurent Schwartz. He believed that he was not smart enough for the subject in school but later went on to win the Fields Medal, the highest award in mathematics. Maryam Mirzakhani, who was the first woman to win the Fields Medal, also experienced similar problems.
Personally, I never looked forward to the maths period and counted down the minutes until the bell rang. Even though I managed to pass, I became so scarred by the end of 12th standard that I didn’t touch the subject with a beanpole after that. Mathematics requires a strong base and if you struggle in one class, you’re likely to carry that anxiety into the next class too.
Looking back, I could have tackled the beast differently. I could have devoted more time, taken the bull by its horns, focused on strengthening simpler concepts and looked at the subject as a creative exercise rather than a necessary chore.
As we grow up, we hardly use the concepts that get taught in higher classes in real life. Allowing students an option to opt for a different subject is a welcome change. That said, it’s wrong to villainize the subject just because it’s difficult. Our brain gets exercise when it responds to challenges and mathematical concepts are key to building analytical skills that can be useful in every walk of life.