Best Practice

Positive attitudes to maths: Five classroom hacks

For some students, anxiety about maths learning can create a barrier to progress and achievement. Nicola Woodford-Smith offers five approaches to help teachers encourage positive attitudes in the maths classroom

Maths. The word conjures a range of feelings at every age and stage.

Too often, those feelings can be negative, perhaps arising when maths is seen as something too difficult or inaccessible or as “not for me”.

This has fed into a widely accepted societal view that “maths is not for everyone” even though this attitude would not be tolerated with a subject such as English. Maths is for everyone. In short, maths is power.

But what is maths anxiety? Well in a recent guide to tackling maths anxiety published by Pearson, it is described as a “negative emotional reaction to mathematics that acts as an ‘emotional handbrake’ and holds up progress in maths” with the severity ranging from a feeling of “mild tension” to a “strong and deep-rooted fear”.

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