Post #0 – What is this blog about?

On belated starts

So. A blog. Something I started three years ago, wrote two articles, published one and then immediately abandoned the project. That was the beginning of 2014. I was in my final year of studying Mathematics/Science Teaching at University.  Now I’m about to start my third year of teaching. That’s three years of procrastination. Time to start writing again.

What is this blog about?

Primarily it’s about Teaching: Meaningful Mathematical Moments, Resource Reviews (of useful or not-so-useful books and other Biz), The Existential Experience of Educators and anything else I care to write about.

Some Side Projects

Project Montaigne – Short or Longform Essays

I grew to hate essay writing in the HSC. Before that, however, I used to love writing – distilling the scrambled mess of thoughts that exist in my head, pulling ideas apart, percolating propositions until I came to a satisfying conclusion at the end. Turns out that’s what essays were at the outset. Michel de Montaigne, Father of the modern essay, wrote about a great many things including thumbs and cannibalism. That sounds fantastic to me.

Project Feynman – Simple Explanations of Lots of Things

Feynman was both a great physicist and communicator of science. Loads of blogs go into his methods for learning stuff in detail (mattyfordcuriosityLifeHackercalnewport just from a quick google search). In summary, you:

  1. Write down what you want to learn about/consolidate
  2. Try to explain it in plain English as if writing to someone who had never heard about it
  3. Identify the weak points in your explanation and research those points
  4. Simplify or create analogies to help explain what’s going on. If your language is too complex, you probably haven’t understood it.

If there’s one thing you IMMEDIATELY discover in teaching, and especially in Mathematics teaching, it’s that often you haven’t understood a concept well enough to explain it at the level students are at. Sure, you can break it down into a black magic recipe of confusion for them, but the language is always so hard and the concepts so fundamental and deep that your explanations are almost certainly inadequate. The Feynman technique seems like the best way forward here.

Project Python – Concepts, Missions, Problems and Pedagogy

For the last couple of years, I’ve been learning Python (more off than on).  I started from absolute ground zero apart from learning LaTex at uni because I’m really cool. However, coming from an education background, I’ve found that most online resources follow a principle that I affectionately refer to as BURP (Bleeding Ubiquitous Rubbish Pedagogy). Most, but not all. The most helpful articles I’ve read on the improving the experience of learning the subject suggested I should always write down in my own words any new concepts with examples. I thought I might as well chuck that in here too.

A Timeline

I aim to do a teaching blog post once a week, while the other side-projects may be released once or twice a month. Turns out 50-70hr working weeks as a teacher don’t leave a huge amount of spare time for writing. Plus, you know, there’s always the actual LEARNING and research and drafts and distractions… I think this is a fairly realistic expectation to put on myself.

Finally, Who Am I?

I’m a Budding Programmer, Theoretical Avid Reader, Multi-Instrumentalist, Semi-Professional Photographer, Amateur Videographer, Podcast Consumer, Reasonably Newly Agnostic,  but I spend most of my time teaching a combination of Mathematics, Music, Technology and whatever else a tiny rural and remote school can throw at me.