Ritesh was a bright kid in his early days of learning. He was the second child of Suresh Sen and Kriti Sen. With both the parents being math teachers, the children were doing exceptionally well in maths and other subjects. Ritesh’s elder brother Ravi was the topper of his class. Seema, his younger sister was doing well too. Everything in Ritesh’s life was going well until one day when his parents started to compare his grades with his siblings.
Ritesh was in the sixth grade and he had managed to score a little more than the average passing marks in his finals math paper. As expected, his parents were really disappointed and he had to face their wrath. Outwardly, Ritesh had a sense of calm when listening to his parents talk about how well his siblings had done and how degraded Rithesh’s performance had become. Once his parents were done showing their frustration, he went back to his room quietly. That night Ritesh couldn’t sleep. Besides feeling guilty and frustrated, a new kind of feeling gripped him. This was the fear of failure.
The beginning of Math Phobia
It could be seen in his grades for the next test exams. He performed his worst. His grades had gone downhill. And this time, he performed poorly in other subjects too. His parents were more frustrated with him than ever. It is not like they didn’t try to help him. It was just their approach that didn’t suit the purpose. Ritesh had become math phobic. He had nightmares of failing in his math papers and unfortunately, most of these nightmares become reality.
Ritesh started thinking of mathematics as an extremely tough subject that cannot be mastered. This negative attitude kept him from focusing on the problem and he got really nervous before his tests and exams. Even if he learned and understood math, he got nervous during the exam. While all this was happening, there was someone who kept a close watch on Ritesh.
We all have our favourite person in school. Rithesh had one too. Suraj sir, as he was known to his students, was the librarian in the school were Ritesh studied. When Ritesh was a bright student, he used to spend a lot of his time in the library. It was then that he began to have conversations with the librarian “Suraj sir”. Suraj had an observant nature. He was friendly with all the students, Ritesh being one of them. So, when he observed this boy being gloomy and upset most of the time, he wondered what might have happened. From his interactions with Ritesh, he had the opinion that he was a good student. He often used to ask Ritesh about his studies. But from the past few months, he rarely had any conversation with the boy. So, one day he decided to talk to him to understand what the problem was.
So, one day during lunch break when Ritesh entered the library, a classmate of his came up to him and said, “Ritesh, Suraj sir wants to see you.” Suraj was busy writing something on of the library registers when he heard Ritesh’s voice saying, “Suraj sir. You wanted to see me?” Suraj looked up in a haste and said, “Oh yes, please have a seat.”
Ritesh sat down on the stool nearby wondering what was the purpose of this meeting. Suraj was aware that it wouldn’t be appropriate coming to the point directly. And so, he asked Ritesh about various other things to help him open up to him. On finally being asked about his studies, Ritesh couldn’t come up with a straightforward answer. He was reluctant in answering that question. Suraj understood that the problem was related to his studies. On spending a few more minutes, he got to know the real problem. However, he decided to get further with it the next day.
So, the next day when he met Ritesh, he decided to help him. On doing a short analysis of his academic skills, he understood that Ritesh had a math phobia. Suraj was an avid reader. It was now time for him to bring into use what he had once read about the steps for getting rid of math phobia. He wrote down something on a paper and gave it to Ritesh. On the paper were written these simple steps that could help Ritesh get rid of his math phobia:
Steps to get rid of Math Phobia:
- Indulge in some breathing exercises daily at the beginning of the day. This practice will help you calm your mind.
- Focus on your math skills and practice them every day to understand the subject.
- Apply your knowledge of math in your day to day life.
Ritesh took this piece of paper and the note in it seriously. He started following the steps and gradually in a few weeks time he gained confidence. He constantly came to get some advice from Suraj who was more than happy to help. He even helped him learn some math. To gain back the interest he had in math, he revised a lot of things like basic arithmetic operations, multiplication chart 1 to 20 and word problems. Reversing multiplication chart 1 to 20 enabled him to become faster at solving problems. With regular practice, Ritesh was able to get over his math phobia.