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Why is maths so difficult? Anxiety, self-esteem and 'stuck' thinking. Jane Warren Dyslexia Tutor Assessor Learning Differences Centre University of Southampton LDC

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A few statistics 93% 12.6% 10% 22% 8% 60% People in the US unable to do algebra UK 2004 GCSE cohort who took maths Proportion who gained below grade E US citizens who cannot do arithmetic Girls in the US who do higher maths Dyslexic people who also have difficulty with maths

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Self-esteem or maths-esteem? Maths is difficult for me What shall I do? 1. Work really hard and learn the rules 2. Decide I’m really dumb 3. Decide maths is really dumb

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What is maths anxiety? How would you react if asked: What is 7 x 8? How much would something cost if the original price of £120 was discounted by 15%? Solve 3x + 2 = 5x - 5 ¾ ÷ ½ Is the answer 1? Read this passage aloud to the group

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Modes of thinking Toolbox mode Abstract mode Intuitive mode With thanks to Jan Robertson of De Montfort University, Leicester

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Getting stuck Stuck in the toolbox: “Maths is a set of rules and procedures.” How maths is often taught and perceived at school Stuck in intuitive mode: “I can give you a ballpark figure.” A common reaction in people not in education Stuck in abstract mode: “Algebra is easy; numbers get in the way.” Surprisingly common in the dyslexic population

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Building maths success Successful mathematics learners… …have confidence to ‘have a go’ and learn from errors …use the ‘language’ of maths …have sound conceptual grasp and pattern recognition …can remember and use facts and formulae

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A way forward? Start from wherever the learner is Build motivation Emphasise process not product Make time and space available Talk through anxieties in order to build self-esteem Spend time on the language of maths

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References Benson, I. (2007) ‘Ditching Piaget’ in Prospect, 130, pp 16-17 Chinn, S. and Ashcroft, J. (1998) Mathematics for dyslexics: a teaching handbook, (2nd. ed.) London, Whurr Cockroft, W. (1982) Mathematics Counts, London, HMSO Cohn, R. (1971) ‘Arithmetic and learning disabilities’ in Myklebust, M.(Ed.) Progress In learning disabilities,11, New York: Grunt & Stratton Robertson, J. (2005) ‘Does Dyscalculia affect the Learning of Mathematical Concepts? (The‘ Twoness’ of Two)’ in Brain-HE Conference Proceedings 2004-5 http://brainhe.com/resources/http://brainhe.com/resources/ Robertson, J. and Wright, F. (2005) ‘Learning support for students with mathematical difficulties’ in in Brain-HE Conference Proceedings 2004-5 http://brainhe.com/resources/ http://brainhe.com/resources/ Snyder, T., Hoffman, C., Geddes, C. (1997) Digest of Education Statistics 1997, NCES 98-015. U.S. Department of Education http://nces.gov/pubs/digest97/98015.html http://nces.gov/pubs/digest97/98015.html Tobias, S. (1993) Overcoming Math Anxiety, New York, Norton Trivett, J. (1959) ‘The coloured sticks’ in New Scientist, 5, 12, pp 1183- 1186 http://parents.sociality.tv/about/socialityohs.pdfhttp://parents.sociality.tv/about/socialityohs.pdf

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