contributed by: Luke Wolcott
go back to category: Compassion


This is an activity proposal, and has not been tried yet. A variation of metta instructions would be given, to give space to the students to feel, share, accept, and be gentle with their feelings of math anxiety.

Description of activity

A metta exercise directed at oneself could start by recognizing the long challenging history of mathematics. For example, I like to remind my students Calculus is 300 years old; after it was invented it took many very smart people another 200 years to make sense of what limits are; I’m asking them to figure it out in about two weeks. This is hard, and they should be gentle with themselves!

A metta exercise directed outward could center on the collective “suffering” of the class. To recognize that everyone in class is struggling, to different degrees, with the material. To frame class as a team effort, and to downplay the genius myth that math is something you either get or do not get.

Given the right students, I think these activities could be powerful in setting the tone of the course.