Can maths be relaxing?

"I can't do maths"; "helping my child with their maths homework stresses me out"; "I was never any good at maths at school"; "I don't need maths in real life". These are all things that I have heard from students and their parents as a high school mathematics teacher. Many peoples' interaction with formal mathematics is built on a foundation of uncertainty, fear and failure; not surprisingly few of them find this leads to a positive experience.

Lets face it, to too many people, studying mathematics at school is a means to an end.... passing their high school mathematics exam and then never having to think about Pythagoras, vectors, trigonometry or anything mathematical beyond simple arithmetic ever again. In the UK currently, students who "fail" at 16 have to keep attempting to pass their GCSE Mathematics exam until they are 18. How many have this fact held over them if they look like they are not making the required progress or putting in what to many is hard slog? The result? Maths is a stresser which needs to be as much as possible avoided; a chore which has to be done and then left behind.

But let's take a step back from this picture of fear and loathing in Las Mathsgas. Can mathematics, and in particular number, have a calming effect at the end of a stressful day? Well if it can't I guess I'm wasting my time with this podcast and blog. So yes, in my opinion, and experience, thinking about numbers by even cycling through a set or sequence can calm a racing brain. And that is the purpose of the Restful Maths Podcast is...to help you relax by talking about number, and then slowly reciting a set or sequence of numbers. Give it a go...