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Here’s An Approach to Math Phobia that Could Add Up: Tackle The Fear Head On

NEW YORK — Michael Gallin, a 34-year-old math teacher at KAPPA International High School in the Bronx, was winding his way through the cluttered aisles of his algebra classroom listening for sighs of frustration.

One girl was sitting glumly by the window, eyeballing a function she was supposed to evaluate: If f(x) = 3.2x^2 – 1.44(x+x^3), find f(2.7). “I know these are the questions you don’t feel like thinking about,” Gallin said. “But these are the questions that are really going to help you.”

“Take your time,” he told a young man in the front row who was half-answering questions, then moving on. “I don’t want you rushing through these problems because you are getting all nervous and saying, ‘Nah, I’m not going to do this.’ ”