Beat your maths bully this October

National Numeracy

Many people feel anxiety, fear and stress when they think about maths. With such strength of feeling it is understandable to try and avoid it altogether. However, numbers are important to all of us and this Maths Workout Week is the perfect time to take the first steps to a happier relationship with maths.

“I don’t do maths for my job”

When you think about maths, you might think first of your school days, a scary maths teacher and the algebra and trigonometry that doesn’t come in useful at work or in life. But we all use maths every day at work whether we think about it or not. From healthcare staff monitoring how much fluid someone has drunk and measuring the height or weight of patients, to caterers getting the right quantities and timings, numbers are everywhere.

When it comes to learning maths, it’s useful to have a think about what benefits there might be for you so that you can remind yourself of them if things become difficult. It might be to get ready for a qualification that can unlock a dream job, to get on better at work, to be able to help children with their homework or even just to prove to yourself that you can.

“But I’m just not a maths person”

Lots of people think they are naturally bad at maths. However, the most likely reasons for struggling with numbers are our past experiences and the kind of support we have had rather than an innate level of ability.

It is true that adults have varying abilities in maths, but that doesn’t mean some people are simply bad at it. Ability is not set in stone and everyone can improve their skills, regardless of their starting point.

“I’ve tried before and I always fail”  

Perceived failure can be very frustrating. When it comes to maths we often consider ourselves to be right or wrong, and if we’re wrong we remember the big red crosses on our school work and dismiss our ability. Mistakes are a big part of the learning process and everyone struggles when learning new things.

Maths is no different to something like driving. It’s very common to find the first few hours behind the wheel very difficult, to hit the curb on the first attempt at reversing around a corner and to fail the test the first time. But we often persist, get back in the car and practise until we pass. We can think the same way about maths.

Join in with Maths Workout Week

We can all get on with numbers without going back to school. The National Numeracy Challenge is an online learning tool which you can work through at your own pace and your own time.  After taking an initial Check-Up, you’ll get online learning resources to help you brush up based on the questions you got wrong. You can then retake and see if you’ve improved. If you register with us this Maths work out week and improve your skills you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win £100 of Love2Shop vouchers (see full details here).

Looking for inspiration? Hear the stories of USDAW members in Castleford who improved their numeracy with the Challenge.

Profile picture for user Ben Perkins

Ben Perkins

Ben is Partner Support Coordinator at the independent charity National Numeracy. The charity aims to help raise low levels of numeracy among both adults and children and to promote the importance of everyday maths skills.

Ben works with employers, unions and other partners to support them in improving numeracy skills amongst their team.