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Math anxiety Bill of Rights

By Murray Bourne, 09 Dec 2010

This is interesting: Student's Math Anxiety Bill of Rights, by Sandra Davis.

I have re-ordered the list and grouped them according to the main themes.

math anxiety bill of rights


I have the right to learn at my own pace and not feel put down or stupid if I'm slower than someone else.

I have the right to feel good about myself regardless of my abilities in math.

I have the right to relax.

I have the right not to base my self-worth on my math skills.

I have the right to dislike math.

Learning approaches

I have the right to ask whatever questions I have.

I have the right to need extra help.

I have the right to ask a teacher or tutor for help.

I have the right to say I don't understand.

I have the right to not understand.


I have the right to view myself as capable of learning math.

I have the right to be treated as a competent person.

I have the right to define success in my own terms.

360° (evaluation works both ways)

I have the right to evaluate my math instructors and how they teach.

(Source: Univ of Minnesota)

Yes, the "self-worth" angle is probably overly emphasized in Western education, but it is still vitally important. Our emotions are the key to our motivation.

Nobody likes to feel stupid, and sadly, that's the emotion many people experience with math.

See the 9 Comments below.

9 Comments on “Math anxiety Bill of Rights”

  1. Sue VanHattum says:

    I love this, and give it to all of my lower-level students, as part of the syllabus. But school itself messes with the right to learn at your own pace. My post about it is here.

    Murray, the Sandra you found doesn't look like the right one to me. I'm guessing the right one is older than this one. I just did some searching, and had no luck, though.

  2. Murray says:

    Hi Sue and thanks for the link to your post where you said:

    "I tell students that schools aren't always the best way to learn math."

    I'm thinking about this a lot these days. Most people I come across are convinced you cannot learn math online, but then thousands of visitors a day come looking for solutions on, as well as many other math sites. If they aren't learning online, at their own pace, what exactly are they doing?

  3. OKOTH - ODOLLO says:

    Where does this leave the tutor?

  4. Murray says:

    Hi Okoth. Yes, rights come with responsibilities.

    Anyone like to suggest a list for "Responsibilities of students with math anxiety"?

  5. Anton W Bredell says:

    I live in Africa. Our Junior secondary results just came out. Some kids ould have done better but apparently clammed up due to anxiety. I'll show them this list next year and see if if helps to let them feel good about themselves.

  6. Tracy says:

    My daughter struggles in math so we printed this out for her to use for encouragment.

  7. Murray says:

    Glad it was useful, Tracy!

  8. Dave Fashenpour says:

    Excellent Bill of Rights!

    I addressed math anxiety in CUIN 6341: Teaching Mathematical Problem Solving taken at the University of Houston. My term paper was entitled, "Taking Away the Fear of Solving Mathematical Problems" and it drew upon the findings of profrssionals, e.g. G.A. Goldin, M.R. Meyer, and J.E. Ormrod, etc.

    Given the two possible outcomes: satisfaction or anxiety, frustration, and fear -- teachers need to do whatever is necessary to achieve student satisfaction.

    The term paper can be viewed or downloaded from my website: (hope it is helpful).


  9. Murray says:

    Thanks for sharing your useful article, Dave!

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