Good articles on math fear

There are some great articles/blog posts floating around that are tackling the same subject as my video - please check out this article written by Ben Orlin, a high school math teacher, about his own struggles in a college math course. While you're at it, you should go read his entire blog - www.mathwithbaddrawings.com - because he is such an entertaining writer. This passage particularly struck me (emphasis mine):

I manifested every symptom that I now see in my own students:                                                             

  • Muddled half-comprehension.
  • Fear of asking questions.
  • Shyness about getting the teacher’s help.
  • Badgering a friend instead.
  • Copying homework.
  • Excuses; blaming others.
  • Procrastination.
  • Anxiety about public failure.
  • Terror of the teacher’s judgment.
  • Feeling incurably stupid.
  • Not wanting to admit any of it.

                                                            

It’s surprisingly hard to write about this, even now. Mathematical failure—much like romantic failure—leaves us raw and vulnerable. It demands excuses.

I tell my story to illustrate that failure isn’t about a lack of “natural intelligence,” whatever that is. Instead, failure is born from a messy combination of bad circumstances: high anxiety, low motivation, gaps in background knowledge.

Most of all, we fail because, when the moment comes to confront our shortcomings and open ourselves up to teachers and peers, we panic and deploy our defenses instead.

 

This is so true! And I think that many of us are more likely to react this way to mathematics because there is a myth in our world that math is only for the "special" or "gifted." that is simply untrue! Take this article that appeared today in the Atlantic, The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math' - The authors make several points I've tried to make myself (albeit in a much more polished, let's-get-this-actually-published kind of way, as opposed to my rant-on-YouTube method). Ultimately, math is something that rewards hard work. So keep working!