Do you remember the day you decided you were no good at math?
Or maybe you had the less common, opposite experience: a moment of math excitement that hooked you for good?
Thousands of studies have been published that touch on the topic of "math anxiety." Overwhelming fear of math, regardless of one's actual aptitude, affects students of all ages, from kindergarten to grad school.
This anxiety extends to the daily lives of grown-ups; we put off planning for retirement, avoid trying to understand health risks, try to get out of calculating a tip. And even teachers suffer from math anxiety, which has been shown to hurt their students' scores, especially when the teachers and the students are both female; the theory is that anxiety interacts with negative stereotypes about women's abilities.
At Evergreen State College's Tacoma Program in Washington state, faculty member Paul McCreary assigns students to write a "mini-memoir" of their experiences with math.