Can we help kids learn to love math?   

A teacher looks at a computer monitor.
Third grade teacher Mindy Anderson holds a flashcard up to her laptop at Centennial Elementary School in Richfield, Minn.
Tim Evans for MPR News 2022

Are you one of those people that freeze up when you need to calculate a 15 percent tip on the restaurant tab? Do you hope a friend will volunteer to figure it out?  You might have a bit of math anxiety. 

A lot of adults and kids think they’re bad at math and say they don’t like it. But learning to be comfortable with numbers and patterns is vital to holding many jobs, being a smart consumer and being a good citizen.  

Math educators are thinking these days about how to help students get excited, not anxious, about math. The state of Minnesota is revising its math standards for the first time since 2007 — right in the middle of a math slump caused by the pandemic’s disruption to classroom instruction. 

MPR News host Angela Davis talked with two math educators about how parents and teachers can kindle success in math.  


  • Sara VanDerWerf is a mathematics specialist with the Minnesota Department of Education. She is a former middle and high school math teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools and past president of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 

  • Christopher Danielson created the Math On-A-Stick play space at the Minnesota State Fair. He’s a former middle school math teacher and college instructor. He currently develops online math lessons for Desmos and blogs about math at  

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