For many people the thought of these kinds of problems is horrible. Painful, even. A study by psychologists Ian Lyon and Sian Beilock has shown that that’s not hyperbole — some people who dislike math do so because the thought of working out things with numbers is experientially similar to physical pain. For people with “high levels of mathematics-anxiety” (HMAs), maths hurts. […]

Since it’s the anticipation of mathematics that seems to get people the most, rather than the actual sums themselves, it might be worth investigating whether there’s a different way of teaching maths in schools. It could also mean taking the time to simplify the process for returning a tax return, for example. Governments often wring their hands over how many adults are effectively mathematically illiterate after leaving school, but maybe it’s not their fault they couldn’t concentrate in class. They might well have just been scared of the number seven (because, after all, seven ate nine).