Attitudes and stereotypes are mathematics’ worst enemy

Have you ever met a person who would proudly tell you that she/he cannot read or write? Is this a strange question? But you have maybe met a person who has told you that he/she cannot mathematics, because also his/her mother did not understand mathematics? I have heard many times from adults all kind of explanations why mathematics is impossible for them to learn or understand – and it is also clear that they don’t even bother!

How do people remember mathematics at school? Probably they remember them sitting all alone in rows and the teacher was solving an equation on blackboard and then it was their turn to repeat it – over and over again. It was often hard for them to see the connection to real life and they started to lose their motivation.

Where from the negative attitude towards mathematics originates? Family member’s attitudes play very important role and we may easily say something negative without understanding its impact to our children. Jo Boaler (2015) writes that the messages we give students can change their performance in mathematics dramatically. Students ideas about their ability and potential seems to be extremely important, more than previously have been understood.

Sometimes newspapers are presenting mathematics in their cartoons with humor that is not favorable for mathematics learning. Cartoons can also be supporting the importance of understanding mathematics (number sense) with humoristic way.


Artist drawing from the module Pre-Algebra, chapter Estimation from

Children are facing with whole punch of negative attitudes towards mathematics around their life, even from family, friends, newspapers and so on. It is not a wonder that every other students would rather take out the trash than do mathematics? Students often see mathematics boring, irrelevant or even frightening. When teachers get new students in their mathematics class they also meet the attitudes of mathematics learning. We have to consider that the problem is not with mathematics itself but part of it can be on the way it is taught.