Hans Rosling has died. The Maths Scholars salute a master
Every week I have a catch up brew and chat with the lovely lady who runs our website and social media accounts. It’s a really nice way to start the morning and every single week I’m asked the same question – when are you going to write something for the website? To be honest, it never really makes it to the top of the “to do list” but this morning is different.
It’s not because I’m suddenly far more organised, nor that I have run out of things to do. The truth is far simpler and aligns with one of the key aims of the scheme - I’ve been inspired.
As I write this, the sun is just starting to make a half decent attempt at breaking through some grey clouds. The statistician in me wants to start putting word such as “likelihood” and “probability” as to whether or not it will be a sunny day. The world is calm in Surrey and if I focus, then it should be a productive day and I’ll finish feeling as though I’ve accomplished something.
Why am I telling you this? What has it do with teaching maths? Simple really, the news this morning has reported the death of a personal hero of mine, Hans Rosling. Still struggling to see the connection? Let me explain…
Many years ago I wasn’t all that interested in maths, and frankly wasn’t excelling in it either. What I did have at the age of 13 was a passion for aeroplanes (which has stayed with me all my life) It was Mr Mullen my maths teacher who explained that if I wanted to study engineering I needed maths – and I was good enough to go on to A levels.
At the Maths Teacher Training Scholarship Scheme we are looking for those people who want to make the difference. Those who are willing to join us on the journey to change the perception that it’s “not OK to be bad at maths” and that needs passionate teachers who can show the how maths is integral to every single part of our lives – Hans Rosling was just such a person.
Using absolutely beautiful infographics he made statistics accessible to everyone –he showed how child mortality has changed over the years and how ebola can be beaten. But one of my personal favourite moments by Hans Rolsing is where he eloquently explained to a journalist the importance of using statistics to give the whole picture. There are so many other fantastic talks by Hans Rosling, so when you’re having a brew today, go and find some. Then tweet us @Beamathsteacher and let us know your favourite.
Changing the perception of maths needs inspirational teachers – I know we repeat this message over and over again. It is a hard job, but you can change the lives of people. Will you be the teacher who is remembered as explaining how to manage finances to a 16 year old as they start work? Or show the elegance of equations and proofs, the stunning images from fractals or the myriad of other ways in which maths drives forward our lives?
By helping foster a love of maths in the upcoming generations our current and alumni scholars are making a difference in the world and just in case your students might not remember to say thank you, I’ll say it for them. Thank you. Keep inspiring your students; keep showing how maths is present in every part of their lives and if you need inspiring just look at what Hans Rosling did. He used maths to get people to listen and understand. That is an amazing legacy to which we can all aspire.