Anxiety-how to manage this for mathematics

I often tell colleagues and parents that while  teaching mathematics, the building of understanding of the concepts comes after the psychological  warfare  has been won with a student’s low self-esteem and anxiety with regard to this subject. To win this battle, classroom or exam-oriented mathematics should be peppered with interesting mathematical problems or history of mathematics. I had Year 7 students look through history of numbers last academic year and I received  very positive feedback from parents about this relatively small and easy project. Tell them how Gauss summed up  first 100 natural numbers when he was very young (stories say five -I am not sure of that) or the story of Pythagorean brotherhood – the humane aspect of mathematics. I find NRICH website  a good resource for interesting problems. Another method of overcoming this battle is through making a rule of no questions is  a silly question to ask -you need to seek help and ask to be explained in a different way if a concept is it not clear. Though in classroom situation especially with the younger ones this can lead to questions being asked even before anything has been presented-to rescue here comes a rule that I picked up at a workshop “see three before you see me”. In fact this also leads to peer explaining and learning atmosphere in class-no better way to learn but through explaining it to someone else.

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