Math Trauma

The thought of going to university always scared me. I knew whatever I ended up taking I would inevitably have to take a math class maybe even more than one. I have Math Trauma, anxiety that  I didn’t know was a real thing until I took my first university math class. From the very first day of that math class, I automatically would get frustrated and shut down trying to relearn even the basics. I shed a few tears at home and would express my inability to learn math to my partner. He would sit down and try to explain things to me from a different perspective and I would always just shut down. It took alot of patients and deep breaths for me to be able to sit down and actually learn the math that is required of me to become a teacher but once I got over the anxiety it became easier. Growing up math was never my strong suit, adding and subtracting sure, but X+Y=C mumbo jumbo and multiplication was always something I HATED. Being told to recite the times tables quickly from memory as a young child was very oppressive to me, and something I still can’t do at the drop of a hat. I sat at the dinner table many nights growing up crying over my math homework because I didn’t understand what was being asked of me. My parents tried to help but it was always something  I struggled with the concept of different aspects, it didn’t always make sense in my mind. There was always only one correct way of doing things, and no other way was acceptable even if there happened to be other ways to get to the same answer. 

I think what  Gale talks about in her lecture about making math relatable is a great way to help students of all ages learn math in ways that make sense to the individual instead of math as something academic cold and inflexible. We use fractions and division in our lives daily and it’s a great way to incorporate math into the curriculum without forcing mandatory worksheets and tests as the only way to learn math. One of the biggest Eurocentric ideas about math is that math needs to be written down in the tradition number sense that 12345… ect are universal and mean the same thing to everyone no matter where you live and this just is not true. Especially when we think about the Inuit people and their meanings of words and numbers and how different numbers also have different meanings.. Sometimes there isn’t even a  Inuit translation that would equate to the Eurocentric mathematical definition. Some numbers have means that serve a purpose that pertains to the lives of the Inuit. Which does not mean that the Inuit people are any less of a mathematician than the rest of the world they just have their own ways of doing it that is just as correct as the way other people do it.

3 thoughts on “Math Trauma

  1. Haylee

    I really enjoyed reading your post! Thank you for sharing your struggles with math. I can personally relate to the frustration with the university math class. After graduating high school I would have never thought I would need to take another math class. Going into my first semester of university I ended up jinxing it and I needed to take a required math class. Luckily for both of us, we got through it and hopefully we will never need to take another math course (other than teaching our own classes haha!).

  2. Kennedy Glascock

    I really related to this post! I also have suffered from some pretty severe math trauma. I remember crying multiple times trying to study for my math foundations 20 tests. To this day I still shudder when I see my old notes. I know it is never a teachers intention to make students feel like this, but i think it happens often nonetheless. If I was to be a math teacher I would try to have the same outlook as Gale. I think if my math classes where more relate able I might have had more success.

  3. Kaeli

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I think that is a reality for many people. It seems that math is often taught in a narrow way and those that don’t get it are forced to try and keep up. It makes me wonder how we can do better as teachers and not create this fear of math that many people have.


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