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Inspirational evening

  • Inspirational evening

Top maths teacher to visit Warrnambool

If Eddie Woo leaves Warrnambool this month with one more person inspired to enjoy mathematics, he’ll be a happy man.

South West TAFE is bringing Australia’s most famous maths teacher to Warrnambool for presentations on May 21 as part of Education Week.

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There will be a free community open forum from 6-7pm at the Lighthouse Theatre along with sessions during the day for students and teachers.

Mr Woo will join Mat Bowtell, Victorian 2018 Local Hero, engineer and prosthetic limb innovator at the sessions.

The 2018 Australian Local Hero says most people don‘t like mathematics because they haven’t been shown how to enjoy learning it.

“I think nine out of 10 would say they didn’t really enjoy mathematics at school, but I’m convinced the main reason people dislike it is that they don’t know what it actually is,” he said.

“If you’re a musician, would you enjoy practicing the same song over and over but spending very little time actually playing your instrument? That’s the way people learn mathematics. They’re told you should learn these formulas because someone says they’re important and we’re going to test you.”

Mr Woo has successfully set about changing that image. His You Tube channel Wootube has nearly 300,000 subscribers around the world, and the videos have been watched more than 12 million times.

He was named one of the top 10 teachers in the world in the Varkey Foundation's Global Teacher Prize and this year he expects to deliver sessions in every Australian state.

“I’m trying to help people see what mathematics is really like; to convince them it’s for everyone,” he said.

“People don’t get the opportunity to see the creative side of mathematics but it’s really a very playful, creative and narrative-based subject.”

Mr Woo’s enthusiasm is rubbing off and he believes students and teachers are starting to see the engaging side of maths.

“We’re pointing people in the right direction. Most people are given a version of mathematics that’s quite dry and cerebral, which is a shame. Just like music, it is meant to be engaging and interesting, but you can also teach it in a way that is boring and discouraging.

“If people get the right concept of it, they will really enjoy the subject. I’m not going change people in an hour but I might open their eyes to something they didn’t see before. It’s a great privilege to me if someone comes up after a session and says I’ve changed their minds about maths.

“I was one of those students who didn’t particularly enjoy the subject until I discovered how interesting it can be and now I want to share that with as many people as I can.”

Mr Woo is now a 'master teacher' with the New South Wales Department of Education where he works as a leader of innovation for maths teaching, and travels across the state and beyond mentoring students and other teachers. He still takes Year 12 extension maths classes at Cherrybrook Technology High School in Sydney every morning before school.

Booking for the free community forum are essential and can be made at www.lighthousetheatre.com.au or 5559 4999.

South West TAFE CEO Mark Fidge said the free sessions on May 21 were a great opportunity for students, teachers and the community to hear firsthand from two amazing educators and innovators.

“At South West TAFE we aim to change people’s lives, and that’s exactly what Eddie and Mat do, so it’s exciting to host them to share their remarkable insights.”