How To Prevent a Maths 'Phobia'

Maths author Eric Schulz tells us how parents can encourage children to develop a passion for mathematics and even learn a few equations themselves.
How To Prevent a Maths 'Phobia'
By Veathika
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The highly esteemed Maths author, Eric Schulz, was in Dubai to share with educators how he inspires students to develop a passion for the subject. met Mr Schulz on the Pearson Middle East hosted 'Maths Day', to ask him how he thinks we can solve the maths/child conundrum.

Eric Schulz is a Maths author, technological tools expert and has been a teacher of mathematics at the Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) in the United States since 1989.

He is credited with the development of dynamic and interactive mathematical visualisations that help students see and understand what is being taught to them. He has co-authored an online interactive Pre-Calculus and Calculus textbooks used in colleges and universities across the world.

“Success in mathematics can increase the opportunities you will have in your career," the Professor tells us. "Strong quantitative skills, built from success in mathematical studies, can improve an individual’s ability to solve problems in the workplace...”

But how do you get your children to embrace the power of numbers? One, very important step, is for parents with their own maths phobia to stop talking about it, and indirectly instilling that fear into their children.

“Never make the statement to your kids that 'I was never good at Maths so it is okay if you are not'. When you say that, it sets up in your child’s mind that its okay if I am not good at this because mom and Dad weren’t. Don’t explicitly encourage that mindset – not for Maths, not for any subject or for that matter.”

A ‘phobia’ or 'hatred' of a subject is often a response to simply not understanding what you are being taught.

“You dismiss something that you don’t understand because you don’t want to be called out for not knowing something. There are reasons of course for not understanding; it could be your interaction with the teacher, or not listening or paying attention to a particular part of the lesson, which manifests into a dislike of the subject." 

Read More: How to Make Your Child A Maths Star 

Apart from being an author for multiple textbooks, Mr. Schulz loves working with students and is passionate about their success. He also promotes being learners for life that includes parents and/or adults taking Maths courses.

“There are a number of online tools and resources now to help you with Mathematics. Khan Academy is an excellent resource, when you want to learn something outside the classroom environment and at your own pace.”

Mr Schulz's own family is full of teachers – his wife is a Middle school Science teacher, his daughter a Maths teacher for the Middle school, and his son is a preschool teacher.

We always encouraged learning as a family, and instead watching a film, we used to play board games. I would strongly recommend games to be played at home. We had this game called Equate, which is like Scrabble but for maths. Equate has subtractions, additions, multiplications and divisions and the goal is to build equations and you earn points based on them.”

Other games he recommends are Cribbage and Mancala. Both these are games of numbers, counting and strategy.

Apart from playing and learning with kids at home, parents of students struggling with Maths should also encourage their children to approach their teacher.

“I would not be resistant to seeking out the teacher and admitting that either I or my child is having difficulty. I would hope that every teacher hears that and says ‘I am here to help’.

For that to be effective the student has to trust the teacher not to ridicule them or embarrass them, and the teacher has to trust the student that they are honestly seeking out help.

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