People and MATHEMATICS – – – – A love or hate relationship

Is there middle ground? Look at the person next to you and ask them what they think of math. Is it love or hate? Hate is such a harsh word, but I hear it all the time when it comes to math. Do they really hate it? You bet!

Earlier this week I read Maths and Primary Teachers Don’t Always Go Together by Michael G. It made me think back to when I was teaching elementary school and conversations that I had had with other teachers. Many of them really did have a dislike for math. So it got me thinking. . . . was it because of their math learning elementary school or later in life? What about everyone? What are their thoughts? I just had to know!

So I set up a short survey. The following questions were on it:

On a scale of 1 – 5 where 1 is highly dislike and 5 is highly like:

1) How did you feel about mathematics in elementary school?

2) How do you currently feel about math?

The third question was asking which best described them. I had choices ranging from 5th grade up to adult.

The fourth was a chance to leave a comment if they chose to do so.

Here are the results from 177 people.


Looking at these two pie charts, you may say that there is no difference. When you click on them and see the percentages, they are small. So now your thoughts are saying that people who said highly dislike in elementary are still highly dislike. That is NOT the case though. There are so many that went from 1 or 2 in elementary school to 4 or 5 now. However, there are just as many people who said 4 or 5 in elementary school are now 1 or 2. So what does this mean? I did not ask enough questions.

However, I received some very enlightening comments. I want to share some with you.

I missed out on math during elementary because of GiftedEducation. You may think this is alright. However, if it were ok, would they want to share this information? This person said 3 on both questions.

I was in advanced math throughout elementary and Junior High.  Once I hit Geometry, I wasn’t making connections and didn’t understand.  Because I was working independently, I really struggled.  In college, I was placed in a Basic College Math class with the worst professor possible.  He assumed everyone in the class was a math major and knew all of this stuff before hand, which made trying to stay with the class nearly impossible for me. Thank goodness for my husband who could help me out with that.  Math is not my favorite thing now, and I tell my kids I was an English major for a reason! Kids? Are these your children or your students? Why do you downgrade math?

I loved the mystery/puzzle aspect of Algebra but not as fond of Trig & Calc. I started college as a math major, but was completely lost in theory. English was a better fit for me, ultimately. Yet my early math skills and training in logical thinking have served me well in other areas of my life. I hope you still encourage math and help when needed.

HATED MATH IN HIGH SCHOOL.  TOOK COLLEGE ALGEBRA TWICE BEFORE I COULD MAKE HIGHER THAN A “D”.  Have no problem using math in real life situations, use math in my job as a nurse without any problems. I’m glad that you are able to use the math that you need. I just hope you don’t discourage others from math.

Math was a huge struggle for me as a student from elementary school through high school.  I was one of those students who just didn’t get it, and found that most math teachers couldn’t really explain things.  It wasn’t until I began teaching and tried to find ways for my students to understand the concepts that I truly understood math. Thank you for not giving up and now teaching students math. I hope you give great encouragement to help alleviate fears.

In high school I was good at math but I didn’t like it at all. I took advanced math because it was expected of me; however, I wasn’t encouraged to like it. I loved to read and loved English class and that was encouraged. I took what math was required for college and left it alone. Oddly enough, I was a programmer for 7 years, but wasn’t truly encouraged by my co-programmers. They were mostly older men (were coding when I was in high school), and frequently I was told I wasn’t a “typical” programmer. When I was in the classroom, I had to tutor in math. I was still good at it, but still don’t like it much. Not sure what I can do to undo years of disliking it. Everyone, PLEASE encourage anything that a child/student enjoys doing and does well.

Growing up, I didn’t really see the need for math. I couldn’t stand the memorization of facts. But now that I’m older and have had to help students with it, I see how much of what I learned was actually relevant. I wish I was taught the application instead of memorization. I think I would have changed from a person who was math-challenged to a person who enjoyed being challenged by math. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for these words. It goes to say with ANY subject in school. You may not see the relevance right now, but there is a reason that we are teaching what we do.

There are SOOOOO many comments that I received. I’m still going back through them and trying to figure out what to say and think. There are some that I am going to blog off of because of what is said in them.

What I have learned so far is that there are MANY reasons why people really enjoy math or really hate it. I will be sharing more. I’m going to be diving back into the data that I have so far and see more numbers and see if I can have a little more of an understanding.

Please know that I had students help with configuring this data. We made pie charts with the information. They actually drew the pie charts from hand with paper, a compass, and a protractor.

Thank you all for taking the short survey. More information about the data I received coming soon!!!



About Anthony Purcell

I am Anthony Purcell and I am currently teaching math in Oklahoma.
This entry was posted in Education, Hate, Love, Reform, Survey, Understanding. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to People and MATHEMATICS – – – – A love or hate relationship

  1. Pingback: Pulling Apart the Math Survey | Educationally Minded

  2. Pingback: Math Shows True Feelings | Random Teacher Thoughts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s