One alarming statistic that we at Zeno talk about quite a bit is the confidence of elementary school educators in their own math skills. According to Lee V. Stiff, the 2000-2002 President of the National Council of Teachers of Math (NCTM), “forty percent of elementary and middle school teachers of mathematics report that they do not feel qualified to teach the content that they teach.” You read it correctly, four-oh. Not good.
It’s also been well documented that people’s anxiety about doing math (no matter what their actual skills are) can be “an impediment to their math achievement.” A study that made the news in 2010 found that female elementary school teacher’s math-anxiety had a significant effect on the math achievement of girls in the class. Let’s not forget that over 90% of all early elementary school teachers are female. This is peer-reviewed stuff, so click the links if you don’t believe me.
There are a lot of people way smarter than I doing literature reviews and studies on what it means to be an effective subject matter teacher, how one becomes one, and so on. The NCTM Prez made his 40% statement in 2000, so let’s hope that landscape has shifted significantly. In the meantime, I have to wonder what you are seeing, hearing, feeling yourself these days about math anxiety in elementary teachers?