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  Teachers Make a Dream Come True

Posted Thursday 22 May 2008

[Ildar Gaisin]

The following is an excerpt from a speech given by Year 12 student medallist, Ildar Gaisin, at the 2007 Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) award presentation in Brisbane. His words exemplify the often underestimated value of the contribution given by teachers to the lives of those they nurture and ultimately to the community as a whole. Ildar is pictured above with his IMO medal at the closing ceremony in Hanoi,Vietnam, in July 2007.

Ildar commences studying mathematics at Cambridge University in September 2008.

"Less than two years ago, I was finishing Year 10 at a school by the beach on the Gold Coast of Queensland. My maths teachers allowed me to sit in on any senior maths class of my choosing. Sun, sand and surf. I thought I had it all, but something was missing!

"An Internet search took me to the Australian Mathematics Trust which linked me to the International Mathematical Olympiad website. This competition was described as ‘The World Championship of Mathematics’. I had found what was missing. However, my school was not involved in the activities of the Australian Mathematics Trust.

"So it was that on the first school day of 2006, I arrived at All Saints Anglican School where I met my new maths teacher, Mr. Gotley. I wanted to make an immediate start on past International Maths Olympiad (IMO) papers but he just laughed, saying there was a lot of maths to learn before we went there. Instead we started with past papers from the AMOC and the last few questions from the Australian Mathematics Competition, all the way back to the 1970s, which probably explains why I am here today.

"Within two weeks I had sat for the Australian Mathematical Olympiad where I finished in 42nd place. This was not good enough to gain entry to the Asian Pacific Mathematical Olympiad or to get a place at the Olympiad Selection School in April.

"So it was back to work. And because there is no recent history of Maths Olympiad representatives in Queensland, it is both a lonely and daunting journey. Fortunately, the Queensland state director, Dr. Carter, is moving to address this and help is on the way for aspiring Queensland Olympians.

"In May 2006, my school flew former IMO double gold medallist Peter McNamara from Perth to the Gold Coast. Peter has a drawer full of AMC medals, including BH Neumann awards. To see him in front of a group of students working out, in real time, the last ten questions of the 2001 AMC paper that won him a BH Neumann certificate was probably one of the most inspiring things I have ever witnessed.

"During the middle of 2006, I achieved a little success in mathematics competitions but the August four-hour AMOC Senior Contest, was always going to be critical for me. I was able to solve all questions including question five, which was only solved by two other candidates. Later, when I demonstrated the solution to the mathematics staff they were just as dumb-founded as I was as to where the solution had come from.

"I could only explain that it seemed to come out of the bottom end of the pen I was using along with the ink!

"Finally, with the AMOC result I had become a person of interest to the Olympiad selectors. Unfortunately, at about the same time I had also become a person of interest to the Australian Federal Police. While boarding an aircraft, a Boeing 757, at the Gold Coast on my way to last year’s medal presentations in Adelaide, I was apprehended by aircraft security with a compass. It was duly confiscated and that was the end of geometry for the trip!

"Then followed the December School of Excellence in Melbourne before the yearly cycle began again in 2007. This time it was a smooth trip from the Australian Mathematical Olympiad, to the Asian Pacific Mathematical Olympiad, to the Selection School, to an International Olympiad medal in Vietnam. I had achieved my goal and was sad that it was over…but not quite over!

"To all medallists here today, if I could give you a dream then let it be this, that one day you return to be presented with another AMC Medal, that you are wearing an Australian Olympiad Blazer like this one, and that you are selected to give this speech.

"Finally, I would like to thank Australian Mathematics Trust staff who gave me this opportunity. From Ross Atkins who turned up on my doorstep from Adelaide to mentor me in June this year, to the IMO team leaders and the AMT people in Canberra who have made the development of young mathematicians their life’s work.

"Thank you, everyone".


Copyright 2007 Australian Mathematics Trust, All Rights Reserved