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Who's afraid of....

(39 Posts)
annodomini Thu 29-Aug-13 13:05:55

Maths. I was talking to my youngest GS the other day. He is about to start year 1 and I asked him if he was looking forward to going back to school. 'Not really,' he said.
'Why?' I asked.
'I'll have to do maths,' he responded, sadly.
'But maths isn't difficult and it can be fun.'
Then, 'What is maths?' he asked.
That took my breath away. He must have heard someone talking about maths as something to be afraid of and had been worrying about it. I explained that he would be learning all about numbers and shapes, just like a programme, Numberjacks, that he is absolutely obsessed with. That was reassuring for him, but I am sad that many children are put off maths by hearing others - maybe even parents - talking about how hard it is.

annodomini Thu 29-Aug-13 13:20:13

By the way, if you want to find Numberjacks, I don't think it's still on CBeebies, but all the episodes seem to be on Youtube. Found it there at the weekend and it kept GS quiet for hours.

Movedalot Thu 29-Aug-13 13:29:49

Our DS was told by a teacher that he was no good at maths when he was 7, at 31 he still believes it! He only got B for GCSE and was glad to give it up. She was only in her probationary year and did do several daft things so I hope she either learned or gave up quickly.

annodomini Thu 29-Aug-13 13:47:54

'only' got a B! Moved, that doesn't sound too bad to me! I took the decision to fail my 'prelim' (or term for 'mock') maths so that I wouldn't have to do Higher maths because I enjoyed English, History and languages far more. Dad, a good mathematician, was mortified.

MiceElf Thu 29-Aug-13 13:48:10

Well, I'm not 'afraid' of it, but I've always had problems with it. I suspect that's partly the appalling teaching at a 1950s grammar school, but also the fact that I could understand the concepts but not manipulate the numbers. I've often wondered if there's an equivalent in numbers to dyslexia as I can only remember one phone number and that's the house phone. Drives everyone potty.

merlotgran Thu 29-Aug-13 14:00:37

I think with maths it's all down to the teacher. I remember enjoying maths at school until our teacher had an accident and spent almost a year out of school. The supply was useless and we all mucked about. When the good teacher returned she had a job getting us back on track for 'O'level

DH says he was useless at maths at grammar school but when he went to Agricultural college it all made sense when applied to a future career.

All my dgcs love maths. It's much more fun these days.

Movedalot Thu 29-Aug-13 14:02:56

I should have put " " round it because that is how he sees it! He can do sums in his head as easily as I can but panics at just the thought of it. I think the damage is irreparable. Fortunately he doesn't need it as a ballet dancer and whatever he does next I am sure will have nothing to do with numbers! He is incredibly musical and I seem to remember reading somewhere that music helped maths. Anyway anno I sympathise with your GS's situation, a throwaway comment to a young child can stick forever.

Lilygran Thu 29-Aug-13 14:07:49

Mice dyscalculalia! I suspect it's more common than dyslexia but it doesn't trip off the tongue, does it? I have always had a real problem with remembering numbers. Can't do any but the simplest mental arithmetic. One Maths teacher told me I must be failing deliberately as no-one could be so good at languages and so bad at Maths. confused

feetlebaum Thu 29-Aug-13 14:17:30

Maths remains a closed book to me. The Maths bloke at school would sneer at me, saying I didn't try - but I did. It just didn't make sense to me! The 'beauty' that some folks see in it is just baloney to me, I'm afraid. Still, I'm very glad there are people who excel at it, otherwise we'd have very little in the way of technology.

Greatnan Thu 29-Aug-13 14:35:08

I love maths - it appeals to my logical side. I also love English, so I did a B.Ed with joint honours in Maths and English and taught both. I was told by one psychologist that I am a convergent/divergent thinker but I think we are just too quick to put people in boxes.
I volunteered to teach basic maths to adults under the Adult Literacy Scheme and I can assure everybody that difficulties in maths are rarely connected to intelligence but often to poor teaching in the early years. I think it helps if a teacher really enjoys the subject and is confident about teaching it.

Lona Thu 29-Aug-13 14:45:42

When I started High school at eleven, my math teacher was a very old lady (or so it seemed to me) with a very quiet voice, who terrified me, and I came bottom of the class in the end of year exam.
Next year we had a young, vibrant, noisy teacher, who got everybody going, and I came fourth in the exam.

ninathenana Thu 29-Aug-13 14:54:34

Do you agree that people seem find either English or maths easy ?

That's the way in our family. DS and I find spelling and grammar easy. He got A* in English but only C maths. I was never any good at maths. I managed to slip through the net and dropped maths in my exam year. Says a lot for my school grin although I can do the basics. DD and DH are great at maths, but can't spell to save their lives.

I had a teacher at primary school who told mum "She will never amount to anything" bitch!!

Movedalot Thu 29-Aug-13 15:11:48

No, nina I don't agree, I am at about the same level in both! I find figures very easy to understand and they don't hide a subtext as words sometimes do!

JessM Thu 29-Aug-13 15:39:19

I think that is so sad OP. I think there is a cultural thing which tells us not only that maths is hard, but that it is not cool to be good at things. My DH is about to embark on a masters in a subject that is little understood. "What's he going to study?" people say "xxx" I say, "it is a branch of applied maths"
I think only one person has expressed any positivity at all (someone who has a maths degree) - for the rest - and there have been dozens - they have all expressed some disgust or horror at the mere thought of studying something mathematical.

gracesmum Thu 29-Aug-13 15:51:03

I am especially proud of DD who has an Economics degree, and with 2 tinies( 3 and 21 months,) has returned to university to retrain as a secondary maths teacher - because she loves it!! I feel her enthusiasm must communicate itself to the kids she will be facing - at least I hope so. And with plenty of experience of DGS's 2-year old tantrums (bless him) , teenagers should be a walk in the park!

Ariadne Thu 29-Aug-13 16:15:38

nina I had one of those too, who used almost exactly the same words to me. I am sure that part of my determination to get my degrees was to "show" her! (Not that I ever met her again!)

And I know that when I achieved a senior position, similar to hers, she was a sort of negative role model, inspiring me NOT to be like her.

So there, Miss Jones!

kittylester Thu 29-Aug-13 16:32:41

I loved maths mainly because my father was brilliant at it and explained without making me feel silly the bits I hadn't got from the teachers first time round. I like puzzles so I think maths is just another puzzle to me.

However, my DS teacher told me I should never get married and have children because I rubbed sugar into butter when making scones. So, Mrs Holmes, I would like to point out that I have 1 husband, 5 children and almost 6 grandchildren and none of them look like starving because of my cooking [infantiletonguestickyout]

annodomini Thu 29-Aug-13 17:18:28

nina, when I came off the platform weighed down with prizes (ok - not for maths) at the end of my school career, my one-time infant teacher looked me up and down and said, 'Well, I'd never have thought it of you.' Unlikely as it may now seem, my 17-year-old self was lost for words. Luckily she had never said anything of the kind when I was 5.

feetlebaum Thu 29-Aug-13 17:53:48

At the grammar school I had five Maths teachers in five years, which wouldn't have helped. But then so did the rest of the form, and they seemed to manage. I quite liked constructions, in Geometry, and was able to put those to use in my first job, in an advertising agency studio, but Algebra? Trigonometry? Geometry Theorems? Forget it! And of course I was never subjected to the horrors of calculus, differential or.... the other one.

JessM Thu 29-Aug-13 18:50:25

better than the same old useless one for 5 years feetle. I suspect in many secondary schools it is quite normal to have different teachers each year.

Ana Thu 29-Aug-13 18:58:21

At my grammar school in the 60s it was very rare to get the same teacher for any subject two years running!

Eloethan Thu 29-Aug-13 19:31:36

I'm a bit slow on the uptake and teachers always went too fast for me. Once you've missed one bit, nothing else makes sense.

MiceElf Thu 29-Aug-13 20:01:26

That's so true Eloethan. I missed a long stretch when I had a spell in hospital, that's when algebra was introduced. I returned to school just in time for the examination, and there were three long questions which I worked out and got the correct solution. However, I was awarded no marks as I hadn't solved the problems using algebra. I argued about this and got nowhere. And I then resolved that I couldn't be bothered which such a stupid illogical system, and I read history books under my desk every maths lesson vrom then on.

Eloethan Thu 29-Aug-13 21:27:50

You should have got more marks for initiative!

Lilygran Thu 29-Aug-13 21:32:46

I missed nearly two years of Arithmetic in junior school. Everyone thought I would catch up but I was always in a total fog in the lessons.