Special program seeks to change student attitudes about math

Fear of math may have a lot to do with early education, but there is no doubt that many Americans and Costa Ricans avoid the subject as much as they can.

Tecnológico de Costa Rica says that only 60 percent of would-be Costa Rican high school graduates pass the math section of the bachillerato exam.

By contrast, the Ministerio de Educación Pública has reported that nine out of 10 students pass the Spanish exam and the social studies exam.

Tecnológico de Costa Rica created the math help program in 2014 to give high schoolers a way to pass the bachillerato and to achieve success in university admissions tests. Tecnológico, one of the country’s public universities, is heavy with courses and programs that require good backgrounds in math.

One Tecnológico teacher, Nelson Ramírez, blames social prejudices for students rejecting math. He asserts that math really is not difficult.

Ramírez is involved in the Cartago university’s Programa de Apoyo a la Educación Matemática. He also is a student in the teacher training program for presenting math via computers.
He said that the key to success for any student is attitude.

So far 800 students in their last year of secondary or technical school have benefited.  The program started in Limón and then spread to Osa, Guanacaste, San José and San Carlos. Each class has nine or 10 students.

There is a special word for fear of math: Arithmophobia. And those afflicted sometimes are unable to follow the career of their choice.

Eight teachers in the program, including Ramírez, present two-hour courses twice each Saturday in various schools.

A math help class is in progress.

A math help class is in progress.

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