George Lucas Educational Foundation

Math Anxiety in the Classroom

Math Anxiety in the Classroom

Related Tags: 6-8 Middle School
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Can any of you consider the best approach(es)/practice(s) that a middle school math teacher should take at refraining math anxiety in the classroom when teaching a class of predominantly challenged urban students.

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Bruce Deitrick Price's picture
Bruce Deitrick Price

I think it's the same as in everything else. You start with the simplest things. 1+2=3. You make sure everyone gets it, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, if you like. I wrote a piece in which I speculated that you could teach all first-grade math with pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollar bills. It's funny that the Education Establishment said they wanted automaticity in Whole Word, where it's very hard to achieve, but they disdain automaticity in arithmetic, where you absolutely need it and it's feasible.
(The main thing I notice, going back to New Math and coming forward, is that the so-called experts always want to mix in a high level of complexity, which is almost guaranteed to confuse all but the brightest kids. My main point is not to assume that just because Reform Math flooded the landscape with a lot of silly ideas that you're stuck with those ideas. If you want more of this analysis, Google "53: The Education Establishment Hates Math.")

Ken Cornett's picture
Ken Cornett
Retired: Grades 4 to 12, specializing in curriculum development

Teach the basic facts first to all of your students. This will take a bit of time, but once they can master the basic facts, they will feel good about themselves and look towards greater challenges.

Once students know the basic facts - they are good to go to more complex math.

You can download a free copy of the Addition Program, that teaches step by step, success after success, to build up self-esteem so they can work on greater skills.

go to and download the addtion program, free

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