The Diptych Project: People with a Passion

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

 The Diptych Project: two friends (once neighbors & now an ocean apart), one theme
Top photo: Ann, bottom photo: Evie

This week's diptych project is a bit different.  We have each photographed and interviewed someone about an area that they are passionate about.  The top photo is from Evie's interview with Faith about a 100 kilometer walk she is doing to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK.  I have interviewed the fantastic Adrian - musical genius, math teacher extraordinaire, and my better half.


Is math something that has interested you since you were a child? What did that look like then?
Some of my memories of childhood include number puzzles that my Grandad gave to me. Simple questions such as: If I have 12 apples and I take away 5 and then add 3 pears, how many pieces of fruit do I have? I loved these and asked him for more and more. I truly believe this is where my love of numbers and patterns came from. So, yes, I always enjoyed math. I want my students to enjoy mental math as I did.

You studied economics at university and then went on to work at a charity.  What brought you to math and specifically math education?
I'm really glad I studied economics. I enjoyed the fact that every time I opened a newspaper, I had a new way of thinking about the numbers I was reading. Ultimately, it was the mathematics that was the engine of the predictions and the theories. 

As far as teaching goes, I wanted to use the mathematics to make a difference. I truly believe that mathematics can be a hugely powerful tool in the lives of young people. If only they knew how to identify and codify patterns around them in order to make decisions, For example, how much will their college degree actually be worth? What data do we need to decide this? What patterns are we looking for in the data?  

What is people's reaction when you tell them you are a math teacher? 
The classic line is that it is the biggest conversation killer at parties. However, generally, I find that people are really interested in what that means. Often they respond with 'Oh, I hated math' or 'I was terrible at math'. My world is about making sure my students do not fall into this trend - it's not cool. 

How do you see things changing in math education?
Education is all about people and hence it is always going to be a hugely complex beast. I have a skewed view as I have been fortunate to work in some phenomenal schools. However, with the arrival of the internet we are seeing greater collaboration across borders where great teaching ideas and resources have a voice. Also, there is a move towards using technology in the classroom. Done well, this could be very exciting. Done poorly and it just distracts from the power of mathematics. My hope is that we can move away from the focus on memorizing and regurgitating independent skills and have a more integrated math curriculum that connects algebra with geometry with calculus with statistics. That is where the real magic happens. 

What are your dreams for your students?
My hope is that my students enjoy learning the journey of mathematics, that they will be able to speak a new language about the world around them, a language that is powerful and exciting, and that in the process, that they get the grades they need to have really successful and passionate careers.

If you would like to hear more of Adrian's thoughts on math education, you can read articles written by him on the Guardian website or follow him on twitter.
Thanks Adrian for being a part of the Diptych Project!

2 Response to The Diptych Project: People with a Passion

May 14, 2013 at 4:43 PM

I wish Adrian had been my math teacher! Great interview subject, thank you :-)

May 27, 2013 at 10:18 PM

I know, me too:)

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