Sunday, September 17, 2006

Treating Math Anxiety: How Not To

I found a copy of a textbook for teaching math in elementary and middle schools in my mailbox, and while flipping through it, I came across a table of suggestions for how to treat different symptoms of math anxiety. For example, physical symptoms could be treated with "Physical exercise before, during, and after study." This sounds reasonable.

Then I got to the symptom "Lack of Attention", which suggested as treatment
Shock treatment: wearing a clown nose and wig during lessons, staging slapstick demonstrations
I was utterly horrified. If the kids weren't anxious about math before, they will be after you start making them wear clown noses and wigs for not paying attention in class! "Now Jimmy, maybe if you pay attention today, you can take those off and the other students will stop laughing at you tomorrow."

I mean, it's bad enough when the kids are anxious about... what's that you say? Oh, you meant the teacher should wear the clown nose and wig. Oh, that's quite different. Never mind.

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