Maths Phobia Essay

623 WordsSep 3, 20123 Pages
Why does one child happily and quickly calculate a simple sum, while another won't even attempt it because they're convinced they're simply "no good with numbers"? The problem certainly isn't caused by lack of intelligence. In fact there are many examples throughout history of seemingly "stupid" people who could do amazing things with numbers. Take the case of Jedediah Buxton (1702-1772), an illiterate laborer who became famous for his number skills. His employer once asked him: "In a body whose 3 sides are 23,145,789 yards, 5,642,732 yards, and 54,965 yards, how many cubical eighths of an inch are there?" Before giving the answer, Buxton asked "which end" of the 28-digit answer he should start at, as he could recite it just as easily forwards or backwards! Of course, mathematical prodigies are born, not made. But it does beg the question: "If somebody who can't even read or write is able to perform these kinds of breathtaking calculations, what stops other people from doing even simple sums?" Clearly, something went wrong along the way. Young children naturally enjoy numbers. And even people who now have an intense dislike for math often say they once enjoyed it. What has happened to them is generally an unfortunate event in their past. Perhaps they were ridiculed for a mistake they made with numbers, in front of the entire class. Maybe they missed some crucial math lessons and never really caught up. Or perhaps they were taught to handle numbers mechanically - when what they really needed was some explanation of why the numbers work the way they do. Whatever the specific reason, bad experiences with numbers left an emotional scar, which developed into a phobia to keep the sufferer safe from further harm. The point here is that if you have "math phobia" or "math block", it isn't a permanent state of mind. As a

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