To say it’s been a tough year for educators is a gross understatement. Here at the Newsletter, we’ve done our best to keep the content coming, but it hasn’t been easy. Which was why it was especially nice to receive this letter from Neil Hamilton, a maths teacher in Australia earlier this month:
My thanks to the Global Math Department
Maths has always held a fascination for me, the way that ideas can be connected through the use of symbols has a kind of beauty and simplicity that has always appealed.
Out of interest I spend time searching and reading to develop my understanding and try to work out why I want to teach maths in the way I do. I always felt like an outsider. Much of the maths content I find comes from overseas. I have often been inspired by reading the work of mathematicians and wished that I had the resources to travel and hear them present in person.
When my world slowed down through COVID, I happened to find the Global Maths Department’s professional development sessions. They gave me the chance to interact with a wider range of educators and to hear and think about Maths in a much wider context. I began to realise that their focus on personal relationships as a part of Maths education was I was subconsciously looking for. Other educators also started to provide webinars and record the sessions in response to the inability to travel or meet during COVID. Suddenly Australia didn’t seem so far away from everyone else.
My own experiences with COVID restrictions at school in Australia started me questioning my beliefs about education and where my priorities were. It was at this time that I read one of Hema Khodai’s contributions to the newsletter. Her words were the inspiration I needed. They made concrete the abstract thoughts and feelings floating around in my head.
They were the beginning of a new routine for me. I look forward to reading the newsletter each Wednesday morning, usually while I am sitting at the beach waiting for it to be light enough to swim in the ocean. It is a highlight of my week. I read, thinking about maths in a way I haven’t before and let those thoughts work through my brain while I swim. By the time I get to school I am often changing my daily program to incorporate these. I tell my students we talk and do maths together, rather than me teach it. The things I will talk about are affected by the things I read.
As the world and schools start to open up again, we are getting busier and busier, and we spend more time trying to catch up rather than think ahead or reflect I feel it is my turn to write and contribute and give my thanks to those that have inspired me. Through my interactions with the Global Math Department, I have more self-belief in the way that I teach Maths. I have come to realise this is what is important to me.