Why Do Students Hate Maths

Maybe you’re a student yourself, or a parent or teacher. However, at some point or another, you’ve probably wondered ” why do students hate maths?”

After all, what’s not to love about Maths? One answer in exams is the correct answer, and there are a lot of fun and interesting concepts and applications for Maths in daily life?

However, some students might not think that way. While fun and a novel subject, how Math is taught to or learnt by students can make a big difference on how students feel about the subject of Maths.

So, why do students hate Maths?

There are a couple of factors that factor into a student’s dislike for Maths. While it may be easier to dismiss the question of “Why Do Students Hate Maths” as simply the laziness of students in general, that’s just not right. To even begin solving the problem, this rather complex question needs to be systematically broken down first into “whys”.

This, of course, differs from student to student. While there are definitely more, these are the most common ones.

They are:

No interest in the subject

Too difficult for them

Had a bad experience with Math

Has a teacher who bores them

Let’s break them down. For further reading on the subject of “Why Do Students Hate Math” by someone else, you can take a look at this article by The Odyssey. If you’d like more content on this subject by us (Bright Math), you can read “15 Reasons Why Students Hate Mathematics.”

  1. No interest in the subject

Most, if not all, know about the importance of Maths, along with English. After all, if they are aiming to go for higher education, a passing, or at least close to passing grade in these subjects are required for O Levels to have more than just a few choices of courses in Poly.

(The requirement to go to any polytechnic is a minimum D7 for English and a C6 pass for Math, sometimes higher if students are aiming for a specific course with higher Math requirements.)

However, some students genuinely have no interest in the subject and feel “forced” to study for at least a pass, if they want to go anywhere at all in poly. This vicious cycle of the fear of failing and having to study to avoid said fear often creates a deep resentment of the subject.

How to solve:

This particular reason is harder to solve, as trying to force someone to be interested in something often backfires. Especially if you have some kind of motive behind the forcing, which causes the student to just clam up to you and lose even more interest (even if the motive is something noble like good grades). Hence, the best solution is just to acknowledge the lack of interest, but urge them to try for good Math grades for their future. This way, the student feels respected, and will be willing to work with you towards your common goal, not feel forced to.

2. Too difficult for them

Often, Maths is a bit too difficult for some students, and Maths is a subject one actively has to practice at (unlike English, for example). They might not understand the concepts or find them overly intimidating. This hence leads to them trying to avoid the subject, and being unhappy when they have to practice or even think about it. Sometimes, this is further aggravated by having a poor support system for Math, like not having any friends who are good at Math, or a teacher who is simply unwilling or unable to help out.

How to solve:

This can be solved by checking the understanding of students who struggle with Maths during lessons (if you’re a teacher) or asking your child to explain the concept to you at home (if you’re a parent)

3.Had a bad experience with Math

This one can apply to not just Maths, but any other subject, really. Sometimes, students have bad memories or experiences of maths, such as a Math teacher who was prone to yelling or screaming at poor Maths grades, or struggling over a Math question and not receiving any help at all when they most needed it.

How to solve:

Ask your child (if you’re a parent), if they’ve ever had trouble with Math, in the form of frustration, or a bad experience, and encourage them to review the experience. Be sure to listen, and provide advice on how to move past the bad experience.

4. Had a teacher who bores them

This reason is actually really common. Just about everyone can remember a teacher who just bored them. They might be droning on and on, or just really incompetent and unwilling to answer questions posed by inquisitive students.  If this applies to your/ your child’s current Math teacher, it might be worth having a gentle, private discussion with the teacher to discuss how to better cater to you/your child’s needs (more cool demonstrations, more class interaction,perhaps).

However, if the teacher is genuinely antagonistic, such as screaming or harshly punishing students for doing poorly, it might be better to work with your child as a parent towards better grades, or form a study group with like minded friends who are interested in improving their Math grades.

Note: This is actually the sort of teacher who creates fear in students and bad experiences all around. The student is unhappy at being treated poorly, and the teacher is frustrated and angry that the students are not obeying his or her commands. Another way to get around such teachers is to go to the principal and discreetly ask for a change of teacher. However, only do this if your child/you has a good relationship with the principal or know that the school will be willing to do so. If this fails, the teacher might be told and become even more antagonistic towards the students.

Click here for O & A Level math tuition. If you’d like to take a look at the MOE Maths syllabus, click here.