Don’t Spread the Anxiety

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was in all the gifted and accelerated classes. She loved school. She was smart, which was good, because she was neither pretty nor popular.

Then came Algebra.

It probably didn’t help that her teacher was a first-year who’d just retired from the military and didn’t really understand the need to bring it down a level for middle schoolers.

The little girl threw her math book at her wall so many times that her mother had to pay for it. She stopped eating lunch in the cafeteria and ate in the room with the math teacher so that she could try to do better. She stayed after school every day for tutoring.

And one day, her teacher told her “maybe you just can’t do this.”

So she decided he was probably right. She just wasn’t smart enough anymore. For some reason, her counselors kept her in accelerated math, and Geometry was a little better, but not much. Then, in Algebra II/Trig, she had a wonderful teacher who recognized that someone had “hurt” her math confidence and helped her recover. The girl still refused to take Calculus in High School (“but, that’s what kids on your track do,” cried the counselors!) and when she went to college she actually had a very sweet Statistics professor try to talk her into a math minor, but in the back of her mind the Algebra teacher was always right there whispering in her ear.

Then the girl got married and had kids and started homeschooling them.  She even had her own girl, who she wanted to think she could do anything. She was always tried not to body shame herself in front of her daughter, but she wasn’t as good about not math-shaming herself. “I’m not explaining this well, let’s ask Daddy to help you tonight.” “We need to let Daddy help Riley with his Algebra tonight because Mommy isn’t good at it like he is.”


So when Mathnasium sent me, err, the girl, this article about not spreading Math Anxiety to your children, it hit home.

If you’re a little math-averse, like me, check it out.

The #1 Tip to Avoid Spreading Math Anxiety in Kids