Why teach maths? A conversation with Eddie Woo

This video was originally published 2 August 2017.

Eddie Woo chats to CESE about maths, teaching and what works best. Listen to the full conversation.

Eddie Woo explains why he teaches maths

There are two answers to this question of why mathematics. The first one is just a practical one. So I went into teaching, I wanted to pursue this from around - Year 11 and 12 is where it sort of crystallised in my mind - and I thought, look, I want to marry up two things: what I’m good at, and also what I think matters in life, and it’s tricky to find those as a teenager at school.
I quickly realised that I love to see people learn. I love to see people grow. It’s what gravitated me towards secondary, because I feel as though you walk into high school, and you’re this tiny little blob with a bag bigger than you are, and you don’t know how to do anything, let alone make decisions for your life. And then by the time you leave, you’re an adult, you’re making choices, you’re putting yourself on a trajectory to decide the course of your life, which is quite amazing. I love seeing that change, and so, number one, teaching.
But I sort of didn’t know really what subject I would go towards. I thought, well I’m good at English and history. I enjoyed being in my music and agriculture classes with some of my best teachers, but for me, I went to Uni and I was at the enrolment day, and the Associate Dean of the University of Sydney he walked along and he looked me up and down, he looked at my transcript for all my subjects, and he said ‘you should be a maths teacher you know, you’ve obviously got a background that you can do this, there’s this immense need’. And because I just wanted to be in a place where I could serve students, serve a community and be maximally useful, that’s the direction that I went in.
But aside from that practical reason of, alright well I guess here’s where I can be beneficial to people, the longer I’ve taught mathematics, the more I’ve come to see it’s a thing of immense practical usefulness. It’s a lens for seeing the world and gaining new perspective on things, and it also is, in its own way, beautiful, a thing to be appreciated. There are patterns all around us that just kind of fly past us and we don’t notice them, but mathematics gives us the tools to understand what’s really going on.


  • Video

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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