Fear, Loathing and Ambivalence toward Learning and Teaching Mathematics: Preservice Teachers’ Perspectives

Diane Itter, Noel Meyers


Preservice teachers graduate from an education system that shapes their mathematical understandings, beliefs and attitudes, and then re-enter that system to shape their own students’ mathematical understandings, beliefs, and attitudes. Unfortunately, many of our future teachers have developed negative mathematical attitudes symptomatic of a self-perpetuating cycle of inter-generational fear, loathing, and ambivalence to mathematics. We investigated the mathematical attitudes of 152 third year Preservice teachers (PST) using their written reflections about their categorisation of, and catalysts for, their mathematical attitudes. To understand better the genesis and consequences of negative mathematical attitudes and beliefs, we focus on the responses of 111 Preservice teachers (nearly three-quarters of our sample) who acknowledged their negative or neutral attitudes towards mathematics.  Our findings confirm the complex relationship between attitudes, beliefs, and emotions, that impact on learners’ motivation, engagement, and learning approaches, and, for our sample of Preservice teachers, that will shape how they teach.


Preservice teachers: Mathematics teacher education; Mathematical attitudes and beliefs

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