The Norwegian Technical Magazine Teknisk Ukeblad reports that 60% of all adults have a fear-reaction when they are presented with a mathematical problem. Now, I think the main reason for this is that maths generally is presented in our schools as something inherently difficult. Is this due to teachers not having a firm grasp on the subject themselves, or is our modern life so rife with tools and applications which makes everyday use of maths redundant for a lot of people, thus the whole subject become some esoteric exercise with no obvious uses? Im not sure, and I believe it is a combination.
I still get rather non-plussed when I come across a young store clerk which cannot make out the correct change in his head when I for instance pay for 78 NOK with a 200 Kroner bill and 3 kroners in small change. Its not that long ago I when to school, and it’s rather sad to see that modern education seems to have forgotten, or failed, to imprint things like basic multiplication or division.
Not very strange a lot of people get anxious when they are presented with a mathematical problem when they don’t even have the basic understanding and familiarity with solving such problems.
I think the good professor Ostad have a point, learning maths are a bit different from learning say geography. I find it is more a kin to learning a new language, you need at least a semblance of overview to be able to utilize what you have learned.