A new study from the University of Cambridge says that ‘maths anxiety’ is causing school children to suffer high anxiety, leading to poorer results in the subject. Dr Georgie Hart, our Education Director, believes the first step is to change the way we talk about maths; to be open about the challenges it can present, but to speak positively about the sense of achievement it can bring:
“From teachers to grandparents, we all have a role to play in changing our attitudes to maths, and how we talk about it is a good place to start. For example, you often hear adults talking about being unable to do maths as if it’s a badge of honour. Children take this on board, and will quickly accept that they too just ‘can’t do maths’. That’s not true. We can all do maths, when we are given the confidence and freedom to learn and develop at our own pace.”
Having spent much of the last eight years observing maths classes across Devon, Georgie has witnessed maths anxiety first-hand. It has motivated her to use technology to find innovative ways to support students who are scared of the subject.
The next step is to help students learn at their own pace, and make ‘getting it wrong’ a normal part of learning, focusing on effort, not just attainment.
“One way this personalised, effort-focused approach can be explored is through the use of new classroom technologies that respond to each child’s needs and supports teachers to build confidence and ability. I’ve seen the way children respond to this, with anxiety melting away and being replaced with pride in tackling a challenge in their own time.”