Kids Have 'Math Anxiety' Thanks To Parents and Teachers, Report Finds

A new report out of the University of Cambridge studied the
experiences of a total of 2,700 primary and secondary students in
the UK and Italy and found that primary and secondary school girls
had higher levels of both math anxiety and general anxiety than
boys. “The study also focuses on how parents and teachers shape
math performance and attitudes, perhaps without even realizing it,”
adds Motherboard. “In the same way that anxious parents can shape
their children’s anxiety, math-anxious mentors can shape how kids
view their own math anxiety.” From the report: The new study builds
on previous research by highlighting the importance of teachers and
parents’ own math anxieties impacting students. Most students that
the researchers talked to said that their anxiousness started when
the math topics became more challenging, and they felt like they
couldn’t do them. Another reason the students’ said they were
struggling was because multiple teachers were teaching them math,
and it became confusing across teaching styles. “Importantly — and
surprisingly — this new research suggests that the majority of
students experiencing maths anxiety have normal to high maths
ability,” Josh Hillman, Director of Education at the Nuffield
Foundation, said in a press release. Several of the excerpts of the
interviews conducted by researchers with math-anxious kids are
heartbreaking: Many described feelings that they knew the answers
but panicked, or tried to battle through initial confusion. One
child, around 9 or 10 years old, said: “Once, I think it was the
first day and he picked on me, and I just kind of burst into tears
because everybody was staring at me and I didn’t know the answer.
Well I probably knew it but I hadn’t thought it through.” Another
described doing a fractions test: “It means like enormously
[nervous], and enormously means like massively… I felt very
unwell and I was really scared and because my table’s in the
corner, I kind of just like tried to not be in the lesson.”

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Kids Have 'Math Anxiety' Thanks To Parents and Teachers, Report Finds