Maths teaching sensation Eddie Woo inspires Woolgoolga High students

Woolgoolga High School students were treated to a maths session with famous inspirational Maths teacher Eddie Woo last Thursday. Photos: Emma Darbin.

 

INSPIRATIONAL and globally renowned maths teacher, author and TV host Eddie Woo of ‘WooTube’ fame treated students and teachers at Woolgoolga High School last week to his unique way of making maths learning “fun and playful”.

Eddie has been undertaking a statewide tour of ten public schools which have maths teachers who are members of the NSW Department of Education Mathematics Growth Team to hold fun mathematics sessions with school students and run training sessions with school Maths teachers.

Eddie Woo is the leader of the Mathematics Growth Team for the NSW Department of Education and Woolgoolga High School Maths Head Teacher Rachel Winter is a Trainer in the Mathematics Growth Team.

Eddie is best known for his online mathematics lessons published on YouTube.

Ninety lucky Woolgoolga High School students from Years 7 to 12 were treated to Eddie’s enjoyable hour-long ‘Reimagining Maths’ session which made students rethink the traditional learning of maths as tests and textbooks and instead look at maths learning as “playful and exploration”.

The 2018 Australia’s Local Hero award winner explained to students how he didn’t originally enjoy maths as a child.

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“I had people to teach me to reimagine what maths was,” Eddie said.

Now Eddie is teaching another generation of maths students how to reimagine traditional notions of maths.

“Mathematics is a subject that is deeply playful; the instinct to play never goes away,” Eddie said.

Eddie used statistics from popular teenage games such as Fortnite to explain the use of maths and to make it fun.

“The instinct to play beats in the heart of every human being,” Eddie said.

Students enjoyed playing a fun maths game of ‘Mean Boxes’ during the entertaining session while Eddie made his way around the room engaging with students as they played.

Eddie informed the students that Maths was about two things “playfulness and exploration”.

“Mathematics is a subject where playfulness and exploration are at the heart of it,” Eddie said.

He then used Mount Everest as another mathematics example to explain to the students the value of statistics and used mathematics analogies to get the students to rethink their traditional beliefs about maths.

“Maths is about reasoning, it’s about exploration to get an answer,” Eddie said.

When interviewed by News Of The Area, Eddie said there were “so many things to love” about holding these maths sessions with high school students.

“Mathematics is a subject which is so often associated with anxiety, with irrelevance; with kids who don’t really care you’ve got to come up with a way to engage them,” Eddie said.

“But to see a full room of kids from Year 7 to 12 and show them another side of mathematics that is super interesting and it makes them curious and gives them a taste for more, that’s delightfully satisfying, and seeing the joy on kids’ faces when something clicks for them, or seeing them thinking hard about a mathematical task.

“I know the skills they are developing now are going to help them solve problems and be logical and navigate the world around them, that’s really exciting.”

Despite the joy Eddie receives from seeing students embrace a love of maths learning, he was primarily undertaking a tour of NSW schools to work with teachers.

“I think that teachers here at Woolgoolga and at all the schools are the ones that are doing the long and sustained work of helping these kids develop a love for learning, so supporting them, that’s primarily the goal of my time here,” Eddie explained.

When asked how important maths is throughout one’s lifetime Eddie said “maths is just essential”.

“A lot of us believe mathematics is just for some people, just people in engineering or finance or those kinds of things, but increasingly now we live in a world swimming with data and information and if you don’t know how to interpret and understand that yourself you place yourself at the mercy of others who will interpret that for you,” Eddie said.

Eddie said mathematics was needed in “all the practicalities of what we need to do day to day in our lives” including weekly budgeting, doing our tax, planning things like a trip or cooking dinner.

“All of that involves an immense amount of maths, mathematics is always there,” Eddie said.

Teachers at Woolgoolga High School will now take the energy and enthusiasm for learning that Eddie Woo has injected into the school students and use that as a “launchpad” to continue to inspire them in their learning.

Following the inspirational session Eddie donated a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) book to Woolgoolga High School Library before being swamped by school students eager to have him autograph their calculators, pencil cases, maths books and worksheets used in the maths session.

Eddie will now visit another two schools before making his way back to Cherrybrook Technology High School to undertake his regular role as Mathematics Head Teacher.

 

By Emma DARBIN

 

Eddie Woo presents Woolgoolga High School Relieving Principal Lu Nickell with a STEM book for the school’s library.

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