Math Anxiety

I try to keep myself as up to date as possible on the issues facing education, whether it be through the newspaper, radio, or in class.  In California, education seems to be a hot topic and in the news daily.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times with the headline “Female teachers may pass on math anxiety to girls, study finds” caught my attention for many reasons.  One: I am a teacher. Two: I am female.  Three: I love math.

In one of my classes, I was asked to recount my own experiences with math from elementary school through college.  Surely, I must have encountered female elementary teachers with math anxiety yet I have always enjoyed math. I realize that I had an unusual amount of math support and encouragement at home from my mother, the math teacher, but the thought never entered my mind that girls were somehow less capable of doing math.

Perhaps positive support from a female figure is what girls need to feel confident in their math abilities. Or maybe we are seeing the effects of women still working their way to job equality.  After all, we’re only a few decades removed from a time when women weren’t commonly found in math/science jobs (Translation…children seeking homework help are told to “ask their father” and thus equate math ability with being male).  Of course, maybe it isn’t either of these reasons.  But it’s something I like to ponder.  How am I affecting my female students’ confidence in math, and how can I help them not only succeed but soar?  I look forward to learning more about how I can contribute to all my students’ success both in class and in talking with my classmates.

Until next time, Fight On!