Among the key academic subjects, math causes the most strain and anxiety. Earlier studies have shown that math anxiety is linked with bad math performance, math avoidance and many other negative attitudes about this matter, the undesirable effects of a culture that considers mathematics as difficult or worthless.

According to Mark Ashcraft and Elizabeth Kirk, math anxiety is "a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance." The reluctance to focus on more advanced areas of mathematics is essentially the consequence of a deep-rooted anti-math culture. It is very common to hear children, parents, and even teachers complain about how boring, difficult or useless it is. Indeed, the culture surrounding math has got to change, even if we also need to be aware of the anxiety that math can produce.

As today’s economy becomes more and more knowledge based, people are becoming increasingly reliant, at school and in their career, on their capacity to understand numbers. The need for math literacy (or numeracy) has never been greater; it is practically a matter of survival for everybody to have, at the very least, a basic understanding of math.

Picture: Allegory of Arithmetic, by Laurent de La Hyre (Wikimedia Commons, w/Effects))