Matematica imparare senza ansia

Learning math without anxiety

10.15 a.m. Class 5D. Math test. Two hours. Anxiety.
Always the same show. Days and days before the test spent doing exercises with the nerd – the typical kind wearing glasses and a rhombus jumper- who tries to persuade all his friends that “knowing how to draw a function” won’t help them with the grocery shopping list, but it will help learning how to think.

Everyone going crazy right before the exam. Some students fill tiny pieces of paper with formulae written so small that one could easily think they’d rather become doctors or pharmacists, judging from the accuracy of the information reported.
Then… panic. The vacuum, nothing. Foggy sight. Stomach pain. Cramps. Pain.

In a research of the University of Chicago, professor Sian Beilock, psychologist, explains that anxiety due to math triggers the same sensations which physical pain triggers. Anticipation of an upcoming math test creates pain even before starting the test. Why?
Do we have an antidote to this problem or are we after one?

We should try to overcome the classical idea of math as only formulae and numbers, useless in everyday life.
Math is not only abstraction but also representation of reality. Let’s think about geometry or some algebric equations, which are nothing else than lines and curves on the Cartesian plane. Let’s think at other branches of science too: physics, biology, chemistry are all based on mathematical models which try to define and trace the fuzzy boundaries of natural phenomena.

We should try to let Math fascinate us in the same way we let visual arts, literature and music. This way, there won’t be any reason to live the study of numbers with anxiety.  Let’s be fascinated by Math and enjoy it!