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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Source: Slashdot – Kids Have ‘Math Anxiety’ Thanks To Parents and Teachers, Report Finds