Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Math Phobias

The Curriculum Committee has been debating adding another year of math as a requirement for graduation. This is a hot and heated topic that was presented at our last board meeting without resolution.

In that meeting, though, plenty of the Board members recounted their math anxieties and unhappy memeories of the subject. The Courant recently published this timely piece.

MATH + PHOBIA = A Problem In America, Where Fear Of Numbers Is Rampant And Many Adults See No Use For The Skill, October 14, 2006, by DAVE PHILIPPS | The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette.

Here's a hint. This country isn't particularly good at math. Pop culture generally paints anyone who is as a geek. And a fraction of the population despises arithmetic so much that the mere thought of solving problems makes them break out in a cold sweat.

Not everyone, of course. There are people who enjoy math, just as there are people who enjoy sitting behind drivers going 35 mph in the left lane. On the whole, though, we don't just loathe it. We fear it.

"Math is right up there with snakes, public speaking and heights. By far it's the least favorite of the three R's," wrote Marilyn Burns in her 1998 book "Math: Facing an American Phobia."

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