Many of us have passed through different facets of education, and we can boldly say that mathematics has been a significant cause of concern for students across every level. The moment a mathematics teacher sets a date for a test or announces an impromptu test time, fear and anxiety set in. It gets worse when it’s time for math exams. Fear of maths isn’t limited to advanced levels. It starts from the primary level all the way up to the highest level of education (tertiary).

The primary reason why students feel anxious and afraid is that mathematics is an integral part of basic and secondary education in Nigeria. As a part of the curriculum, students are required to learn math skills, numerical reasoning, and comprehend various math concepts.

Learning mathematics is quite important because the knowledge can be applied to find solutions to real-life problems, get a good understanding of how the world works since it’s mostly calculations, and to make a career out of. Therefore, students look forwards to acing their math papers in WASSCE, NECO exams, and A-Level exams because it is a gateway to studying at a higher level.

Offering Help to get over the fear of Maths

Every student, from primary and secondary to tertiary level, fully understand how maths is essential to their curriculum and general education as well as career and personal life. Usually, students are quite attentive in their maths class and listen to their teachers carefully.

What If your maths is a real source of worry for you?

The fear of maths can be devastating for students. It causes lots of unpleasant situations e.g., mental switching off, panicking, fear, severe anxiety, etc. it only means that you should not toy with it. ‘

Not to worry, we have provided 5 hacks to assist you with overcoming fear of maths:

  • Employ a private tutor to take private maths tutorials. Here is a personalised teaching experience that can make students overcome whatever problems they are facing. Special teaching aids like a private tutor (usually a school teacher, an undergraduate, postgraduate student, or an enthusiast) can be the solution a student needs to get over mental blocks associated with mathematics.
A maths tutor can help you learn maths faster. (source: SDI productions)
  • Use of applied and relevant study materials. This is another approach that can help a student get over the fear of mathematics. Imagine a student doing calculations with abacus, matchsticks, or pebbles. It may sound funny, but they are effective because they provide logical explanations for various concepts and break barriers.
  • Revisiting mathematics basics. Just like other subjects, it is crucial to understand the foundation of mathematics. Its comprehension is a stepping stone to understanding mid-level and advanced mathematics. For starters, the focus should be addition, subtraction, and other basic maths stuff. With time, you can graduate to algebra, geometry, Pythagoras theorem, perimeter and area of shapes, and other maths concepts.
  • Pointing out the causes. There are external influences that affect how a student understands maths. Identifying these problems will go a long way to set you on the right path and help you conquer math.
  • Reading advanced books. Shying away from reading advanced books won’t help your quest for maths knowledge. Therefore, you should read these books and broaden your knowledge.

More importantly, you should note that you can overcome your fear of maths by using technological applications and tools to find solutions to maths questions. If you want to learn how to get good at maths, those strategies are for you.

A general maths teacher may not be sufficient for your maths learning. (source: Zave Smith)

Comprehending your Maths Anxiety

Going down memory lane, it won’t be surprising to find out that the unpleasant experiences you went through in primary, secondary, and tertiary schools are the major reason behind your apathy and maths anxiety. However, because you had a bad experience learning maths all those years does not mean the situation has to last forever.

Those memories you’ll rather forget occurred because you didn’t understand particular math concepts during your lessons, and they led to you being anxious, afraid, let down, and weary. Also, you might have felt that maths topics like geometry, calculus, bearing, and distance, set, etc. were bland and unappealing.

The twist is that you might have an innate affinity for mathematics. The issue is that before you can fully understand how Pythagoras theorem works, the applications of geometry, how to calculate the distance between two different places, and so on, you need to think of yourself as a Pythagoras, Gauss, Conway, or Einstein. These people were creative math geniuses who were innovative enough to birth new concepts and understood various aspects of math knowledge.

Many think of attempting maths questions as undergoing physical torture. Experts have noted that students expecting tough maths questions equated it to physical pain. In the same vein, the hatred for maths might have been borne out of emotional torture. Many Nigerian students have gone through the embarrassment of being blank when called upon to solve maths problems on the chalkboard. Unfortunately, the embarrassment and mental torture linger on for years.

Ultimately, the anxious feeling, maths phobia, embarrassment, emotional trauma, disappointment, and weariness must have made many students have apathy for maths and at worst, feel intense disgust and hatred for the subject. The unpleasant situation can lead to students thinking lowly of themselves, regular crying, and bad vibes.

Hearteningly, there are different maths aid strategies to employ and eliminate the maths problems a student might be facing:

  • Commend students for reasonable efforts.
  • Spur students to achieve more.
  • Do not scold students.
  • Pay keen attention to the students’ reasons for feeling anxious, weary, or afraid.
  • Get more fun out of maths by organizing quizzes, puzzles, and other games. You can also introduce prizes.

Your Maths Phobia can Be a Thing of the Past

Take some time off, pause, and reflect on the energy exerted into the application of mathematics and other science subjects like chemistry, biology, botany, engineering, marine sciences, etc., you’ll realise that maths isn’t as hard as you make it to be.

Scientists have confirmed that the growth of a brain can be on the rise or decline. Furthermore, when a student makes a maths error, the brain makes progress by learning from the mistakes. As much as your weariness and anxious feeling aren’t good enough, these mistakes can be instrumental in developing a smarter brain. Each time you get an answer to a maths problem incorrectly, your brain’s neurons are likely to increase in multiple folds.

Therefore, our focus is on ensuring your anxious feeling or fear is converted into good stress; a concept that propels a student’s rapid growth in maths.

Famed scientist Boaler asserts that working under pressure from time limits inhibits the human brain from functioning as it should. Therefore, when a student isn’t under pressure to complete attempting a maths problem, such a student will find it much easier to understand necessary calculations, square roots, statistics, geometry, longitude and latitude, algebra, and many others.

Progress at maths through fun activities

Honestly, you do not have to feel anxious each time you learn maths. You can learn maths at your convenience and through modern innovation. You can deviate from the norm, which includes sitting in a classroom and taking boring maths lessons.

You can have fun while learning maths. (source: Anchiy)

There are other ways you can enjoy learning maths in Nigeria. For example, the famous Cowbellpedia Quiz show, known for quizzing select secondary school students on their maths knowledge, is closer to students than before. There is an Android app for students who want to learn maths while having fun.

Also, you can form code words for different math concepts. BODMAS was birthed as a means to help students solve complex arithmetic questions that involved brackets.

Alternatively, you can organise a self-help group where the members are tasked with helping themselves get better at mathematics. You can devise plans that will include education and entertainment.

Furthermore, there are different PC and mobile games you can play that involve maths. Playing them can enhance your knowledge of mathematics as well as provide great entertainment for you.

Revising maths as an adult

Maths has a similarity with a new language: years of inactivity means that you might have to start learning again to brush up. For mathematics, you need to stay consistent, and a way of ensuring consistency is a constant practice. It would be best if you practised mathematics regularly to gain a full understanding.

Besides, it is vital to brush up your maths knowledge before going to a tertiary institution for your undergraduate, postgraduate, or Ph.D. studies. If you need maths for career purposes, you are not left out.

For your brush up, we strongly recommend that you hire a private math tutor who can provide personalised and meticulously curated maths tutorial for you. On the other hand, some students prefer the self-help method. They would instead read books, surf the internet for maths-related topics, and teach themselves.

Regardless of your choice, there are some actions you can take to stop feeling anxious or afraid:

  • Read and revise past exam questions.
  • Learn mathematics with apps and tools.
  • Ready your flashcards.

Mathematics will never be more straightforward for you to learn than this.

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