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Topic: Peter Hilton on Math Anxiety
Replies: 14   Last Post: Mar 16, 2010 7:23 PM

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Kirby Urner

Posts: 4,713
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Peter Hilton on Math Anxiety
Posted: Mar 3, 2010 8:30 PM
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<< SNIP >>

> Speaking of math anxiety...
> I can certainly say that I have not experienced math
> anxiety, probably the opposite whatever that may be.
> And I don't know of a subject that ever invoked
> anxiety in me. English was certainly my most disliked
> subject but the feeling there was mostly
> disappointment and frustration, not anxiety. I
> remember one time in high school we were assigned
> book reports and I got "Don Quixote". I read that
> thing three times and still couldn't make sense of it
> and then all of the sudden I got it and it felt like
> it must feel for another kid when they get
> "completing the square". I remember reading it a
> couple more times to make sure I got it and I wrote
> my paper with new found enthusiasm and handed it in,
> spelling/grammar errors and all. And I got a "C"
> because of the spelling/grammar errors. That was
> certainly disappointing and not the last time either,
> but I kept the enthusiasm and endeavored to
> persevere. I was actually quite good at spelling
> through 4th grade or so but I it seemed to get in the
> way and I lost interest. I certainly don't remember
> any teacher causing it. The only thing that could
> have saved it was if I could put other interest
> (distractions) at bay and re-discipline myself with
> exercise. And such is life.

I think you're quite a lucky man to be able to say all
this. You've been given a gift, don't take it for

A few chairs over, another kid is truly suffering, bitter
taste in the mouth, slight tremor from fear. Mathematics
is truly threatening, as that sense of failing is also
panic. Will society value me? Capitalism is cruel to
those it thinks it doesn't need.

As a curriculum designer, we're responsible for looking
from various points of view. The gifted student viewpoint
is one of many. Designing everything to advantage her or
him, at the expense of all others, is likely going to
end up backfiring.

I think this 'off your duff' mathematics is going to help
change the playing field in some positive ways. Kids who
don't relish the math test, may nevertheless excel in the
ropes course. You might think the latter has nothing to
do with math, but it does. Tying knots is a branch of
topology, not just sailing. For other students, the
mathematics of the catenary are combined with real time
working on a real railroad -- for academic credit, not as
"slaves of the system". Some will sign up for longer
terms, as much about railroading is inherently fun to some


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