Mathematics – role of emotions in achievement.

Are you one of the thousands of learners who, when hearing the word Mathematics, immediately experience negative thoughts and emotions? Are you scared of Mathematics? Are you feeling inferior and stupid when others discuss their brilliant Mathematics marks? Do you believe you cannot do it? Do you wish you did not have to take Mathematics as a subject?

You can overcome these thoughts and emotions!

The number one rule is to remember Mathematics cannot or should not control you. You should control it! All of us can do Mathematics, some are, however, better at it as some are better in sport, dance, chess, art, and even at doing nothing.

Mathematics do NOT determine your IQ, but it may challenge your EQ!

What is Mathematics anxiety?

Math anxiety is more than just feeling nervous about doing math. It negatively affects a leaner’ ability to do Mathematics.

Math anxiety causes leaners to think and worry about how afraid they feel of math. This occupies their working memory which – research has shown – is a limited resource – with a maximum capacity of holding about seven ideas at any one time. A resource that would have been better spent focusing on and solving the math problems is spent on worrying.

For example, if a teacher presents a learner with a math problem, the learner must hold all the data –  numbers and facts of the problem – in his or her mind, link this to knowledge already stored in the brain, consider the steps necessary to solve the problem, and write out the solution; all in a short span of time.


Guidelines to cope with your Mathematics emotions/anxiety:

– Mathematics is a language and you can learn to use it. The definitions and symbols are the words that you must know to speak the language.

– Mathematics may be a challenge, but it is not a monster. Mathematics use building blocks. Each block builds on another. Notice how your teacher, textbooks and homework always start with simple problems and build up step-by-step to more complex ones. Ensure that you have mastered each step before you take then next one in Mathematics.

– Professional soccer, tennis and golf players earn millions, but they practice very hard – every day. Nobody gets to be good at anything without practice. Mathematics is all about practice, practice and more practice. Remember, all famous sport people kicked and hit lots of balls badly and still mess up regularly during play, but that does not stop them from being successful!

– Write down your feelings and discuss it with your teacher, parents or a friend. Researchers found that, when leaners wrote about their math-related worries, before taking a test, their math test scores improved.

– Start to work in groups to enable you to support one another. Sometimes, it is easier to understand something if somebody other than your teacher explains it.

– If possible, attend extra classes or follow online lessons to enable you to get a grip on those parts of Mathematics that you struggle with.

– Do not fear making mistakes. A mistake is a great opportunity to learn. Think about the mistake. Where did you go wrong? What did you not fully understand? Was it a reading error, a careless mistake, a simple calculation error or was there some basic rule you did not know or understood?

– Your brain believes everything you tell it. Train your brain to be positive about Mathematics. Henry Ford said, “if you think you can or think you can’t do a thing; you’re right.”

– We may not all be brilliant in Mathematics – but we all can do it.

– Master breathing exercises to support you during tests and exams. Researchers showed that if leaners with math anxiety did some breathing exercises to calm them before a math test, they felt calmer and their marks improved

– If you suspect that you have a medical reason preventing you from doing Mathematics – dyscalculia – ask a psychologist to test you and get exemption for Mathematics.

– Remember Mathematics need never ever control your life again. Just believe: I am in control of Mathematics!

– Always do your best. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up and never give up!

– Believe in yourself – you are unique. You can do Mathematics!