What or who inspired you to become a secondary mathematics teacher?
If I had to name one thing that inspired me to become a mathematician, and consequently a maths teacher, I would definitely have to talk about my maths teacher in Year 12. Before him, I wasn't really keen on maths; one could say I wasn't even particularly good at maths. I found the subject confusing and unclear: on one hand we were given formulas and procedures to memorise but on the other hand the exercises we had to solve were nothing like those formulas and procedures. They looked different and new and I found it really hard to apply my knowledge. Moreover, the work seemed to me uninspiring and tedious. I had decided I would become a psychologist, which meant I only had to take one maths class rather than two (I finished school overseas, so the system there is a bit different, i.e. everyone is required to take one maths class in Year 12).
Then this teacher was assigned to me. I had heard rumours in the school about him: he was serious, never smiled and often appeared to be "lost in his world". This teacher was different, but he was different in a good, wonderful way. First of all, he was so passionate about maths! He lived and breathed maths and enjoyed having philosophical discussions about the nature of mathematics which I found really inspiring. He made an effort to show us what maths really is: a beautiful (a little bit like art!) but also a logical subject that anyone can be good at. Instead of having us memorise formulas and procedures, he explained how everything is connected, why those formulas and procedures are true, and what the ideas and intuitions are behind what we were using in the course. Suddenly everything I was learning had meaning and made sense. He enjoyed sharing little glimpses of what maths looks like at the university level, which made my mind go to places it had never gone before (I still remember the day he told us how some infinities are larger than other infinities!). From avoiding maths, I started loving maths. After this teacher, I decided to become a mathematician. That meant I had to change "pathways" and within a year I had to cover the maths curriculum of two years. But this was all fine because I had suddenly become absolutely in love with the subject. All went well and I even proceeded to do graduate studies in mathematics: the girl who thought she was not good in maths (and even disliked maths). A teacher can change someone's life; they can inspire someone to such a great degree...
This teacher made me want to be that teacher.
By Georgia Christodoulou