Last week I sent out a survey and had people take it. Looking back, I can clearly see that it may not have been the best. However, I have some pretty good information from it. I’ve pulled it apart the data some more and made some observations.

At first I shared how people felt about math in elementary school and how they feel now. In that post I pointed out that there really is not much of a change in how people feel about math. It looks as if how you feel about math in elementary school is how you will feel later in life. That is not the case. Look at these.

This first chart are people that highly disliked (1) math in elementary school and how they feel about it now. There are a few that jumped to highly like! That is a huge jump! However, What I see here is that the majority of those that highly dislike math in elementary school are going to continue to dislike it.

This second one are people that disliked (2) math in elementary school. Very few here grew to dislike it even more. The majority here grew to like math.

This third one are people that didn’t have a strong like or dislike (3). We can see here that those with no major feelings toward math in elementary school either continue that way or grow to like it. Only 10% dislike it now.

This one shows those that liked (4) math in elementary school. This is the most dramatic I feel. Elementary students that like math grow to really separate. Why is this? About half continue to like or highly like, and half move down on the scale. Why?

The last shows highly liked (5) feelings toward math in elementary school. This last one shows me that the majority of people who really grasp math and really like it in elementary school will continue to enjoy math throughout life.

I know that this is NOT that scientific and is a little biased because the majority of the people that took this survey know me in some way. However, this is a great insight to the start of how we should approach teaching mathematics.

What are your thoughts? Do you see any trends in the data? Am I way off on my thinking? Please share your thoughts and wonderings with me.

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## About Anthony Purcell

I am Anthony Purcell and I am currently teaching math in Oklahoma.

Very interesting data – thanks for sharing!

Have you taken a look at the questions in the opposite order? For those who scored a 1 for how they feel now, what were their responses about elementary school? From the data you’ve shared so far, I’d guess that a third to a half of them scored a 1 for school. This alternate order may reveal a more obvious cause and effect relationship.

I read recently that “we shall fail to appreciate the rhythm of Milton, or the passion of Shelley, so long as we find it necessary to spell the words and are not quite certain of the forms of the individual letters.” (found in Alfred Whitehead’s Introduction to Mathematics). It’s the same for math – if we don’t learn the arithmetic, we won’t truly appreciate the beauty of the golden ratio or the elegance of a combinatorial proof.

I was looking at going the opposite direction as soon as I finished the charts. It was getting late when I was finishing up the blog post so I set it aside. I will be looking at the data again today and looking to see where they are now and see what the comparisons are for where they came from in elementary school. Thank you for your comment.

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