Pop Quiz: The Horror of Math
The bulk of the classes I teach are general science courses that are not math heavy. Even though these courses do not rely on math like a Physics class would there is still a small math component to each course. I am really not sure how to do science without doing some math even at the most elementary level. So when I tell the students that they need to bring a calculator to class with them I see them begin to turn pale and clammy.
I reassure them that the math we do in class is not difficult and that I will show them what to do and everything will be okay. Some of them calm down but a good number of them are very concerned. I start getting hands shooting up in all directions. Students asking if they have to memorize formulas? No. Students wanting to know if they needed to take calculus before they took this course? No. Students asking why there was no prerequisite of math on the course description? There is it says high school math. I also get the students who tell me they can do science but they cannot do math. To which I respond then you cannot do science.
It is alarming how math phobic people truly are. I tell them that they do math all the time and do not even think about it. In fact they will do more difficult calculations trying to figure out what grade they need on the next test to get the grade they want in the class then the math we actually do in the course!
Where does mathphobia come from? I am married to someone who is math phobic. The moment you show him something with a few formulas his brain shuts down. Although, he is getting better now that he understands that math is a tool and not the evil demon he thought it was. I know that when I read General Relativity by Robert Wald I have a really hard time getting past the first few pages and get discouraged then put it away. However, I think that is because I have never been properly introduced to differential geometry so it is confusing. Perhaps, that is why people have such a hard time with topics that have math involved because they have never been properly introduced into the area of mathematics.
Why are people so afraid of math? How do you deal with math phobic students? Do you think mathematics should be taught differently? Should general science courses be void of even the smallest amount of math?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).
Feature Image: Pythagorean Proof by Jellyvista