Do you panic when you have to calculate a tip? Did you ever feel like your mind went blank when confronted with a test in math class, in spite of having spent a week on the material? Do you avoid math as much as possible now?
You may have math anxiety.
And you’re not alone. While no one seems to be able to agree how many people have it—some estimate it affects 25 percent of university students and 80 percent of community college students—and the American Psychological Association doesn’t recognize math anxiety as a specific disorder in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, it can start as early as elementary school, and affects all ages, genders, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
It also happens worldwide, though some cultures report less math anxiety than others.
When you consider how much of our technology and global economy rely on numbers, math anxiety is an obstacle that hampers the population’s overall numeracy, making many unable to keep up.
Mental_floss spoke with several math education experts about the impact of math anxiety—and tools for addressing it.
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