Does your hatred for maths make you feel sad? Because you're struggling with mathematics does not mean that you have a lower IQ than someone who finds mathematics easy. Unfortunately, many people think of it this way.

The moment you start disliking maths, it will be difficult for you to focus on it and solve some maths problem, overcome distractions, and be demotivated.

Often, your hatred for mathematics degenerates to a stage where you'll start panicking, having sleepless nights, feeling anxious, and suffering emotional trauma. The opposite is the case for people who love mathematical topics like algebra, bearing and distance, longitude and latitude, geometry, sets, Pythagoras theorem, and other concepts. The thought that they'll learn new topics, take up different challenges and ace them gives them joy and happiness.

At this juncture, it is pertinent to ask the differences between both sets of people and why it is so. Also, people with maths problems are eager to find out if there are strategies they can use to conquer their fear of maths and help them overcome their anxiety and hatred.

Therefore, you need to find out why some students are comfortable with studying maths while others are afraid of the subject.

Can Unpleasant Experiences at Nigerian Schools Make Students Fear Maths?

Even the most ingenious Nigerian maths student will mention that orthodox methods of teaching maths aren't the best way to go about it. For most maths classes, it is based on making a discovery, using salient points to enlighten students on a rule, and standard lectures. Following this rule, operations that apply to the real world do not resonate with the old methods of teaching mathematics. Therefore, it can make a student feel uninterested in learning mathematics.

Admittedly, maths looks boring. All students do is receive tuition, work on exercises, and attempt homework too. All this is to move on to the next chapter or concept in maths. It is not directly connected to any societal development.

Even worse, Nigerian school teachers usually regard students who are proficient in maths as academically superior to those who are struggling with learning mathematics. It is used as a criterion for different selection processes. For example, secondary school students in Nigeria gain promotion to higher classes after three terms in a session. If a student passes other subjects but fails mathematics, it won't be easy gaining admission to the next level.

The idea of high-performing and average students is solely based on their academic performances in core subjects like mathematics, and it can be a problem. Students struggling with learning mathematics often find it frustrating and disappointed to be 'segregated', the embarrassment and shame they face from being maths strugglers take their tolls on these students.

Not many students can say they have never felt anxious, sad, or troubled when the time to write maths exams approaches or when the maths teacher beckons on them to come and solve maths problems on the chalkboard in front of students.

The psychological trauma students face as a result of learning maths only intensifies because they need to understand a concept before moving to the other. These concepts are interwoven. Therefore, without knowing one, there's no way a student will realise a related concept. Consequently, it is advisable to take actions soonest to prevent a student from having a torrid school time. Notably, the school experience can determine a student's career and interests later on.

Understanding Maths: Down to the Mind?

We would always see students who are maths gurus and others who find maths challenging. We often wonder what innate abilities maths guru possess that make them outstanding. These set of people usually mention that maths has never fazed them, and it had interested them from childhood.

To become a maths guru, you need to be able to interpret information accurately and be creative. Creativity comes to play when different students employ different approaches to solve a maths problem and arrive at similar answers afterwards.

Many have concluded that maths experts are left-brained because the left part of the brain houses the reasoning and analytical faculty while the right parts contain creativity and emotions faculty. What many of them do not understand is that both sides of the brain function simultaneously. Therefore, every human makes use of both brain parts in full capacity.

Why does Maths Tuition Cause Sadness for Many Students In Nigeria and worldwide?

Expert study shows that maths can inflict physical and emotional pain on students when they're expecting exercises, homework, test, or exams. It is the usual thing that happens when the average individual is worried about different things. With this explanation, we can deduce that the fear of maths is solely based on emotions,

It might not occur to you, but the emotional torture a student undergoes as a result of being afraid of maths can destabilise and paralyse the student. When the student hears of bearing and distance, the only thing on his mind is the undue pressure his family members have placed on him. Quadratic equation only makes her want to run away and hide somewhere far from civilisation.

Besides, the emotional torture students experience in a school, e.g. the horrors of being laughed at scornfully for being unable to solve an arithmetic question while fixated on the chalkboard in front of classmates. Also, an insensitive and ignorant teacher can scold a student who does not seem to understand specific maths concepts in front of the other classmates. Worse still, such student can be beaten.

It can be embarrassing for a student to attempt maths questions on a board. (source: andresr)

Why do Many Students Dislike Maths?

To learn maths, a student needs to put in effort, revise regularly, attempt exercises and homework, as well as memorise definitions and formulas. These elements are required in other subjects too. Weirdly, many students are capable of applying these elements while studying other subjects, and they ace the subjects. However, it is a different ball game when it comes to mathematics. They become helpless and cannot exhibit any form of progress.

Memory blockages are synonymous with studying maths and can be attributed to different factors like an unnecessarily strict teacher who is unapproachable. It's worse in Nigeria because there are usually limited specialised teachers for these subjects. It only means that a student might receive from the same unapproachable teacher for years.

When such a thing happens, it is likely to see a student have a mental blockage. Such a student won't feel any urge to learn maths, at least not from the same teacher. Even worse, the student cannot readily get help when it is needed.

It is why a swift action has to be taken on time to nip the unpleasant situation in the bud because, at this stage, phobia for maths begins to creep in. Parents/guardians have to talk to the child/ward's school as regards to the brewing situation, set up a support system in the home and outside the home if need be. Furthermore, hiring a child psychologist will come in handy to make sure no stone is left unturned.

A psychologist can help stop blockages and phobia for maths. (source: SDI Productions)

Can You Conquer Your Fear of Maths?

It is typical of parents/guardians to hire a private tutor in a bid to salvage the situation. On some occasions, a private tutor isn't the solution to a student's mental blockage while studying maths. While investigating the relationship a student has with maths, we can identify the type of errors student face:

  • Symbolic errors refer to the probing questions a student has and the student's persona.
  • Poetic errors which occur when a student mistakes one word for another.
  • Progression errors which happen when a student comprehends a new maths concept but forgets past ones learnt.
  • Small errors which are quite familiar to everyone.

First, parents have to ensure that students are confident and proud of whatever abilities they possess. Students that are incompetent of handling basic maths can become gurus if their psychological blockages can become a thing of the past.

Here are some tips for maths teachers or private tutors who are keen on seeing their students excel while learning maths:

  • Identify concepts that the student likes.
  • Note the student's determination to succeed.
  • Do not attribute a student's failure to laziness.
  • Be willing to listen to students.
  • Teach students maths while introducing fun games and interactive activities that will linger in their memories for a long while.

People often wonder why some people love maths while others are afraid. Here are some reasons:

Natural aptitude comes to play. Humans do not have the same IQ, and people's mental capacity differs. Hence, the disparity.

Humans have different IQ and brain capacity. (source: DrAfter123)

Also, the foundation boded well for some, while many others weren't lucky. Some suffered different degrees of trauma while learning mathematics during their childhood. The incompetence of their teachers and ignorance on the part of the parents made students live with their phobia even as adults.

At this stage, the best solution is first to provide a solution to it. Afterwards, the student will require quality private tuition which is available on Superprof.

If you're a maths teacher, you need to understand that your role as a teacher or maths tutor is crucial to moulding a student's love or hatred for the subject.

Becuase maths learning is for everyone, you can conquer your maths phobia with online tuition, specialised tools and strategies, dedicated maths learning apps, interactive maths games.

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