How do you feel about maths?
|Give yourself a score for each of the situations below,
from one for never anxious, two for sometimes anxious, three for often anxious
and four for always anxious.
1.Working out a tip
2.Working out prices abroad
3. Checking the cost of your shopping
4. Working out 20 per cent off in a sale
5. Checking your change
6. Working out the cost of a holiday
7. Adding £5.99, £10.99, £l9.99and£3.95
8. Reading a train timetable
9.Working out your weekly budget
10.Checking which mobile phone deal is the best value
your weight in stones into kilograms
12. Having to recall a maths fact like 6x9 quickly
13. Understanding the odds for a bet 1
14. Writing a cheque
15. Checking the VAT on a builder's invoice
16. Working out your pay rise of 3.25 peer cent
17. Checking your credit card bill
18. Working out how much weedkiller to use in a five- litre
19. Changing the quantities in a recipe for four to feed six
school maths lessons
Add up your
score;a score of 60 or above indicates that you are in the top 3.5 per cent
for anxiety levels The average score is 34, and the most anxiety-causing
situation is converting stones to kilograms.
Dealing With Dyscalculia: Sum Hope2 by Steve Chinn, Souvenir Press
It's a while since I left school, but the problem can persist into adult
life. Steve Chinn, an award-winning special needs teacher, is the author
of several guides for people who struggle with maths. His latest, Dealing
With Dyscalculia: Sum Hope2, is a friendly guide to picking up your skills.
But what is dyscalculia? 'The word has been around for 30 or more years and
we haven't got a really definite definition,' he says. 'You'll see things
such as: "Has a lot of difficulty with mathematics or numbers."
Put yourself in that category, put me in there - it will encompass a lot
of the population! You'd have to use something such as: "Perseverent and
significant difficulty with and fear of numbers."' The cornmon problems stem,
he says, from a limited understanding of numbers.
'A lot of these people don't have a general sense of money and are not very
good at estimating, which is a working-day maths skill. We estimate how much
we're spending on a round of drinks or in the supermarket. If someone says
there's a 20 per cent reduction at Homebase, they don't know what that means.
They could get out a calculator but they wouldn't have a clue if the answer
One of the other manifestations is people feel that they're really bad at
maths and just freeze up. It's a human instinct to protect themselves from
failure. None of us likes being judged.'
Chinn's strategy for coping with this anxiety is to stay within your comfort
zone. 'If you continually practise something you can't do, that can make
things worse. In the book I talk about staying within your comfort zone,
so using stuff you do know which would be two x facts, five x facts, ten
x facts. You can develop other facts: if you don't know what 4x7 is you do
2x7 and double it, or if you don't know what 3x8 is you do 2x8 and add one
more eight. You're making the task shorter, and rehearsing the facts.'
It helps, he says, to asses the problem (see quiz, above right) 'Go down
the checklist and see how many of those things you really can't do. Most
people can do more than they really think. Everyone learns differently but
find two or three that work for you, then maybe there might be some other
areas that work. And don't be afraid to jot things down on paper; some people
just don't have a memory for numbers. Other people have expectations, and
people have expectations of themselves. People who are bad at maths need
to just get those expectations to the point when they're comfortable.'
Edited by EMMA JEAN STURGESS
[Metro September 26, 2007]