Mathematics is always perceived as an intimidating and a challenging subject by most students. It has a negative connotation that leads to anxiety, avoidance, and lack of interest in any math related activities. However, by changing the narrative surrounding math and building up a positive attitude and perspective towards the subject, students can develop a healthier perception about mathematics. This research article explores different strategies and approaches to help students love and embrace math as a friend rather than a foe, ultimately start having an improvement in their math skills and gain confidence.

Keywords: changing narrative, embracing math, friend, foe, math skills, teaching approaches.


Mathematics is undeniably integral to our daily lives, permeating various aspects from simple tasks to complex professional endeavors. Despite its ubiquitous nature, many students struggle with math, often leading to negative perceptions of the subject. This unfavorable attitude can be attributed to several factors, including past experiences, societal attitudes, and teaching methodologies.

Neale (1969) succinctly defined student attitudes towards mathematics as encompassing “a liking or disliking of mathematics, a tendency to engage in or avoid mathematical activities, a belief that one is good or bad at mathematics, and a belief that mathematics is useful or useless” (p. 632). These attitudes can significantly impact students’ approach to learning and their overall performance in math-related tasks. However, by changing the narrative surrounding math and promoting a positive attitude towards the subject, students can develop a healthier mindset and relationship with mathematics.

This shift in perspective encourages students to see math as more than just a series of rules and formulas but as a practical and rewarding subject that can be applied to various aspects of life.

Incorporating engaging and relevant real-world examples into math education, promoting a growth mindset, and providing opportunities for collaborative learning and problem-solving are just a few strategies that can help foster a positive attitude towards mathematics. By embracing math as an accessible and valuable tool, students can improve their math skills and develop a newfound appreciation for the subject.


A comprehensive review of related literature was undertaken to explore the factors that
contribute to negative attitudes towards mathematics and to identify effective approaches for fostering positive attitudes towards the subject. This review encompassed a range of studies from the fields of education, psychology, and mathematics education, providing a multidimensional perspective on the pedagogical and psychological aspects of mathematics education.

The literature review revealed several key factors that influence students’ attitudes towards mathematics. Past experiences, societal perceptions, teaching methods, and personal beliefs were identified as significant contributors to negative attitudes. Additionally, the review highlighted the importance of addressing these factors through targeted interventions to promote a positive attitude towards mathematics.

To complement the findings from the literature review, a survey was conducted to gather
students’ perspectives on how they perceive mathematics as a subject. The survey aimed to provide a firsthand account of students’ attitudes towards mathematics, offering insights that could inform the development of effective strategies for promoting a positive attitude towards the subject.

Overall, the combined findings from the literature review and survey emphasize the need for a holistic approach to addressing negative attitudes towards mathematics. By understanding the various factors that influence students’ attitudes and by implementing targeted interventions, educators can help students develop a more positive and confident outlook on mathematics.


The negative attitude of students towards mathematics can be influenced by a variety of factors, including their past experiences, societal perceptions, and teaching methods employed in the classroom. Past experiences, such as encountering failures, confusion, or difficulties in understanding mathematical concepts, can lead to fear and resentment towards the subject. Students who struggle with math may develop a belief that they are not capable of succeeding in the subject, further reinforcing their negative attitude. Societal views also play a significant role in shaping students’ attitudes towards mathematics.

The perception that math is only for “smart” people can create a sense of inadequacy and
diminish students’ confidence in their ability to succeed in the subject. This societal stereotype can be particularly damaging, as it can lead students to believe that their success in math is predetermined by their innate intelligence, rather than their effort and perseverance.

Furthermore, the traditional teaching methods used in many classrooms may contribute to students’ negative attitudes towards math. Approaches that focus on memorization and rote learning often fail to engage students or help them develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Instead, these methods can make math seem dull and uninteresting, further reinforcing the belief that math is a difficult and unappealing subject. To address these issues, educators can adopt more innovative and engaging teaching strategies that promote active learning and problem-solving. By making math more relevant to students’ lives and emphasizing the practical applications of mathematical concepts, educators can help students develop a more positive attitude towards the subject.

Additionally, providing support and encouragement, rather than criticism, can help students build confidence in their math abilities and overcome their fear of the subject.


Changing our narrative and promoting a positive attitude towards mathematics is essential for educators to adopt various approaches and strategies. As Brew (2022) suggests, there is often a fear, stigma, and weight associated with mathematics that makes it intimidating for many individuals. To counteract this, educators can implement the following strategies:

  1. Past Experiences: Adverse experiences, such as failures, confusion, or difficulties in comprehending mathematical concepts, can foster fear and aversion towards the subject. These experiences may lead students to believe that they lack the capability to succeed in mathematics.
  2. Societal Perceptions: The societal belief that mathematics is reserved for inherently “intelligent” individuals can engender feelings of inadequacy and undermine students’ confidence in their potential to excel in the subject. This stereotype is particularly detrimental as it suggests that mathematical success is pre-determined by innate intelligence rather than cultivated through diligence and perseverance.
  3. Teaching Methods: Conventional teaching methodologies that emphasize memorization and rote learning can also contribute to a negative disposition towards mathematics. These methods often fail to engage students or facilitate a comprehensive understanding of mathematical concepts, rendering the subject unappealing and tedious.

These factors are critical as they influence not only student’s attitudes but also their approach to learning and overall performance in mathematical tasks. By recognizing and
addressing these factors, educators can implement appropriate interventions to cultivate amore positive attitude towards mathematics among students.


Changing the narrative and fostering a positive attitude towards mathematics can have profound effects on students’ relationship with the subject. Educators play a crucial role in shaping students’ perceptions and attitudes towards math, and by adopting a positive approach, they can help students develop a healthier mindset towards the subject.
One of the key benefits of promoting a positive attitude towards math is improved learning outcomes. When students approach math with a positive attitude, they are more likely to engage with the material, participate actively in class, and seek out opportunities to learn. This can lead to better understanding and retention of mathematical concepts, ultimately resulting in improved academic performance.

Additionally, a positive attitude towards math can increase students’ confidence in their abilities. When students believe in their own capabilities, they are more likely to tackle challenging problems and persevere in the face of difficulties. This can have a positive impact on their overall academic success and can help build a foundation for future learning.

Promoting a positive attitude towards math can also help students develop a greater
appreciation for the beauty and utility of mathematics. When students see math as more than just a set of rules and formulas, they are more likely to see its relevance in the world around them. This can lead to a deeper understanding of the subject and a greater interest in exploring its applications in various fields.

In conclusion, by changing the narrative and promoting a positive attitude towards math,
educators can help students develop a healthier relationship with the subject. This can lead to improved learning outcomes, increased confidence, and a greater appreciation for the beauty and utility of mathematics, ultimately benefiting students both academically and personally.

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