Worried by numbers
BY 花消英气 from 21st Century
Published 2022-04-29
Math causes many people anxiety. TUCHONG

Do you get nervous thinking about geometry, equations or a coming math test? If yes, you are far from alone. Math anxiety has become a common psychological condition among students around the world. Students in countries with higher levels of math anxiety tend to achieve lower math grades, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Feb 15.

According to a University of Cambridge study, in ordinary life, many people experience some degree of discomfort when confronted with a math problem, ranging from mild tension to strong fear.

Some people also experience physical symptoms such as sweaty palms or a racing heart. They may then try to avoid every situation involving numbers, meaning they are held back from pursuing careers related to this subject, such as science, technology or engineering, according to The Guardian.

Reassurance comes from the fact that those with math anxiety aren’t destined to be bad at math. “If a child has math anxiety, don’t assume that they’re not good at math. They may have had a really bad experience with math and there are ways to improve math achievement,” Daniel Ansari, the senior author of the study told The London Free Press. “Students with math anxiety are not cognitively disadvantaged.”
令人慰藉的是,有数学焦虑的人并非注定数学不好。“哪怕一个孩子有数学焦虑,也不要断言他不擅长数学。他们可能在数学方面有过非常糟糕的经历,但还是有办法提高他们的数学成绩的。” 该研究的资深作者丹尼尔·安萨里在接受伦敦自由出版社采访时表示,“有数学焦虑的学生并非在认知方面处于劣势。”

Also, there are ways to manage your stress related to math. If you’re feeling stressed before a math exam, it may help to spend a few minutes exploring those feelings before the exam begins. “It’s about making sure you’re interpreting your feelings correctly,” Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist in the US told the BBC. “Just because you have a fast heartbeat and sweaty palms, that does not necessarily mean you will fail.”

A little math anxiety could be taken as a positive challenge to overcome. Just like many people get stage fright before delivering a speech, this nervous energy can help to motivate, according to Ian Lyons, a psychologist at Georgetown University in the US.

(Translator & Editor: Li Xinzhu AND Luo Sitian)
Equations  方程式
Proceedings  论文集
Confronted  面对
Symptoms  症状
Sweaty palms  掌心出汗
Reassurance  慰藉
Destined  注定的
Cognitively  认知地
Heartbeat  心跳
Stage fright  怯场