Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

For the Math-Phobic

Get over it.

There. Didn't that help?

No? Oh. Dang.

When I hear people say "I don't like math" it's almost as if they said "I don't like eating". I just don't get it. You need it, it's good, what's not to like?

Hmm.. Perhaps motivation is an issue. If you're homeschooling your kids you know that your own attitudes have a huge influence. You can't afford to pass on your math-phobia to your children. And why would you want to? Math is everywhere, it's necessary, and if it's fun too, what's not to like?

FUN. Yup that's what I said. What makes math fun? It's pretty. It's puzzling. There are math tricks. You can play jokes on people with it. It's used in playing games.

Math is useful. You use it to cook. And sew. You need it to tell you how long it is to your birthday, and how many presents you got. How many thank you cards you need to write and how much it's going to cost to send them all. :-D

OK. Maybe you're convinced you want to learn to like math, or at least become less phobic. How would you do it? I think you need to back up. If you're math phobic, it's probably because someone somewhere pushed you too fast, or was rude to you, or mean to you with regards to your math skills. So, first, don't do that to someone else. Certainly don't do it to your own children. Take a brake from whatever curriculum you're using if you need to. Don't pass this phobia on. Remember that our emotions color our learning. If you or your child is not liking what you're doing, then you're probably not going to reach your true goals, regardless of the time and energy you put in it. In fact the extra push needed to overcome the negative emotions is likely to do just the opposite of what you intend.

Second, give yourself a math hug. Play. Find something fun and recognize the math in it. Do you like to cook? garden? read? play computer games? Just about everything has math and numbers in it. Look around with new eyes and see where you use math. Give yourself a chance to realize you don't hate all of math. Sure, maybe balancing the checkbook isn't much fun, but how about doubling a cookie recipe?

Next, try something that sounds fun to you. You could play some games, read a book, do a puzzle, plan a project, read some poetry... something. Just for fun. Not to learn anything, or beat anyone, just something enjoyable, noticing how math is interwoven with your something.

Now do it all over again. And again.
That's it. Cut yourself some slack and build some positive emotions around math.

Remember "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy". Get happy about math!

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