2013 celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the primary papers of the AMC. These papers are prepared by the AMC Primary Problems Committee, a dedicated group of volunteers who first came together in 2003. Many members of that inaugural committee are still involved and these foundation members are recipients of BH Neumann awards for their contribution to the AMT.
Whilst normally, no more than three BH Neumann awards are presented in any one year, this year, the Board decided that this group as a whole be recognised as they have worked so closely together. Each member was presented with their award at the Ceviche Restaurant, Sydney, on Saturday 15 June 2013.
Below are their citations.
Anthony being presented with his BH Neumann award by Warren Atkins, inaugural Chair of Primary Problems Committee.
Anthony was born in Adelaide in 1964 into a large, old South Australian family where counting cousins was a formative mathematical experience! When he was three, the family moved to Broken Hill which, in those days was an affluent, multi-cultural and close-knit community with many opportunities for young people. As a boy, Anthony loved exploring the bush and the various interesting old workings and fixtures around the local area, where fences offered little challenge to the curious. His family were great travellers and Anthony clearly remembers spending hours calculating average speeds, ETAs and miles per gallon and playing endless car games to pass the time driving anywhere from Perth to Cairns.
Anthony began his education at St Mary’s Infants School, Railwaytown and was always happy to be at school, managing to learn most of what he was supposed to. In Year 5 Brother Dominic was his first passionate maths teacher and even though his passion included rote learning of tables and the occasional whack with the strap he did at least teach with real enthusiasm and verve. High school was at St Joseph’s and again, Anthony was lucky to come under the influence of some passionate, if slightly intimidating, maths and science teachers and found academic success without too much effort. However, by the time he got to HSC, the distractions of football and other earthly pursuits meant that school, even maths, was a bit of a side-line and his results were somewhat disappointing.
Instead of an engineering cadetship that had been a vague plan, Anthony started his first year of paid employment as an apprentice electrician on the North Broken Hill Mine. After the HSC, the maths and physics at TAFE were no problem and Anthony was often sought out by the other lads for help. Anthony left Broken Hill in 1986 and found himself in Canberra, working in his trade. After a year travelling around the world on $20 a day, Anthony decided he would like to be a teacher. He returned to Australia, married his sweetheart and began studies at ACU in Canberra in 1990. He majored in maths because he felt it would be the easiest option and ended up really enjoying the challenge of it. Anthony began teaching at St Monica’s Primary School in Canberra in 1993. He found the teaching of mathematics interesting but was not happy with how he was doing it. He went to as much maths PD as possible and found the PIMM Course at the University of Canberra an amazing challenge. A turning point was Richard Skemp’s article explaining the difference between relational and instrumental understanding which made sense and gave him the confidence that what he was doing was at least on the right track. That started a career-long drive to teach maths well and to awaken children to the ‘cool’ bits along the way.
Anthony became involved in some school-based research projects which brought him into contact with Steve Thornton at the University of Canberra. He then spent some time working as a tutor for teaching students which led Steve to put his name forward for the inaugural Primary Problems Committee in 2003 and his association with the AMT has continued since then. Anthony still gets a kick out of talking maths with the others on the committee and wrestling with the curly questions.
In 2004, Anthony moved to St. Francis Xavier College, a 7-12 school of 1200 students. He is currently teaching maths and religious education and is also enjoying the challenge of being a Year Coordinator. Anthony is still passionate about making mathematics relevant and accessible to all students and is another deserving recipient of the BH Neumann award.
Greg Taylor with Warren Atkins, inaugural Chair of Primary Problems Committee and Mike Clapper, Executive Director of AMT.
Greg sees mathematics in everything. However, this passion has not always been there. Through school, maths was simply a set of formulas taught without a real sense of purpose or relevance to everyday life. Greg did what he had to do, passed comfortably and dreaded the thought of any further work in Mathematics ever again.
As he never enjoyed Mathematics classes at school it was a hard decision to take a maths major at University as a part of his Primary School Education degree, but as his dad was a Mathematics professor at the same university and he knew many of the staff, he thought it might be an easy option. What he found was that his love of Mathematics was about to begin. Walking into his first lecture, he was inspired by a lecturer who brought life to Mathematics. His examples of linking how we interact in our world with mathematical principles opened Greg’s mind to how important mathematics is in our lives and thus began his personal journey with maths.
Greg’s upbringing valued education but he was more into sport and recreation. His early interests were soccer, riding his bike and trying to hack into the family computer (which his father constantly tried to password protect). Greg still remembers the day that Dad realised the only way to win was to take away the keyboard! However, the pressure of getting a good education eventually had its impact and by the end of year 12, Greg was accepted to the University of Canberra to become a primary school teacher. After graduation, Greg worked for a building company selling houses before
plucking up the courage to face a classroom.
Although Greg does not regard himself as having a natural talent in Mathematics or a deep and thorough understanding of many concepts, he believes in the importance of good classroom Mathematics teaching. He has a strong passion for the teaching of mental computation strategies and having teaching that relates maths to other curriculum areas. In 2010, Greg worked with the ACT Education Department on the Middle Years Mental Computation (MYMC) project, funded by DEEWR through the ACT system, and this project has demonstrated the value of developing teaching strategies that focus on understanding and developing mathematical confidence. This has become a powerful mathematical teaching tool that Greg was able to share with his teaching team.
In May 2011, Greg began a new role in the ACT Education and Training Directorate as a Numeracy Executive Officer (Secondary). Then, in August 2012 he started his current position as a Teaching Clinical Specialist with the University of Canberra working in Pre-Service Teacher Support.
Greg has been on the Primary Problems Committee since its commencement and enjoys writing questions that encourage good mathematical thinking. He is a deserving winner of the BH Neumann award.
Jacqui being presented with her BH Neumann award by Warren Atkins, inaugural Chair of Primary Problems Committee.
Jacqui was born in 1967 and her early years were spent in a council flat in a 20-storey tower block in inner London. She was considered an average student in Primary, though always in the top maths group. Jacqui knows from personal experience the difference that a good teacher can make when, in the equivalent of Year 5, she had an amazing teacher under whose guidance her reading age improved by 6 years in just 9 months. Jacqui spent her high school years at Holland Park Comprehensive School, a multi-cultural comprehensive school of 1700 students who between them spoke 40 different languages at home.
Whilst the school did not participate in any of the Olympiad programs, the maths staff did teach Jacqui the basics of group theory and differential equations before she left high school.
Jacqui was the first in her family to have finished high school, let alone gone to university, so her choices were mostly driven by teacher advice. She did her undergraduate degree at Warwick University, which had, and still has, a very strong reputation in Mathematics. Jacqui stayed on at Warwick and did a PhD on Kac-Moody Groups before emigrating to Australia in 1991 (in order to follow a man!) She hasn’t looked back since. She began working as a tutor at UNSW while writing up her thesis and in 1992 won a different BH Neumann prize for the most outstanding student talk at the Australian Mathematical Society’s meeting in Perth. As a result of a slight misunderstanding, Jacqui gave Bernhard Neumann a big hug when he handed her this prize which set the tone for their relationship because he gave her a big hug every time they met thereafter.
In September 1992, Jacqui moved to Newcastle (with the same man) where she got a job as a Level A academic in May 1993. She was in Newcastle for over 14 years, working on various topics including von Neumann algebras, Hecke algebras and topological groups. Recently her research interests have come full circle as her work on topological groups has led her back into the area of Kac-Moody groups. Her research has been, and currently is, supported by the Australian Research Council.
While at Newcastle Jacqui provided all sorts of community service, including chairing the BH Neumann committee seven times and serving as President and Vice-President of the Newcastle Maths Association for 4 years. One of her teaching duties in Newcastle was a mathematical subject for primary school teachers. This experience, combined with her service for the Newcastle Permanent Maths Competition, made her a prime target when the AMT decided to extend its highly successful competition into primary schools. She has been on the AMC Primary Problems Committee since its establishment in 2003. In 2007, Jacqui moved to the School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics at the University of Wollongong. Her community service is now more focused on schools in the Illawarra, South Coast and South Sydney regions. Jacqui has worked closely with the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) since its inception and helped to produce and pilot the ICE-EM Mathematics textbooks in addition to directing the AMSI Summer School. Jacqui has developed two new subjects in mathematics and statistics for prospective primary teachers which are now running very successfully and is an innovator in the use of new technology to improve the learning experience for remote students. Jacqui is a rare breed in being an academic that truly understands the importance of the early years of education and is prepared to put time into acting on that belief. In all, a very worthy recipient of the BH Neumann award.
Jan being presented with her BH Neumann award by Warren Atkins, inaugural Chair of Primary Problems Committee.
Jan began her career as a high school classroom teacher in New Zealand. Highlights in the early years of her career include her involvement in the maths quiz for the Southland Mathematics Association Competition. This was a powerful formative experience as it sparked an interest which was to influence the course of her career.
In 1985 Jan moved to Australia with her family, where she updated her qualifications with a BEd. She then taught at secondary and then primary schools in Queensland. After a successful career as a classroom teacher over three decades, Jan became a mathematics adviser at the Inala Support Centre where she became a mentor to teachers and schools. In this role, she has had an impact on mathematics in the classroom with the promotion of resourceful hands-on activities. Through this time she developed a passion for ensuring maths made sense to all learners within the syllabus expectation of thinking, reasoning and working mathematically.
On the closure of the Inala Support Centre and frustrated by the perceived lack of support in the classroom for maths teachers, Jan launched her own consultancy business called Making Sense of Maths. In this role, Jan had an opportunity to inspire teachers to teach for understanding, both for themselves and their students. Her years as a Numeracy and Mathematics consultant in Queensland prepared her to work across systems and at any level. Making Sense of Maths gave Jan a platform to use the skills she had acquired in primary and secondary teaching and as a mathematics advisor. Jan specialised in hands-on learning with practical activities and support for teachers and Teacher Aides, to enable them to lead students to a better understanding of mathematical concepts. She promoted activities which motivated deeper thinking, combined with more student participation, helping to improve learning outcomes.
Attending many Mathematics conferences and especially looking out for practical activities, Jan was drawn in 2003 to a workshop lead by Matt Skoss from Alice Springs, showing the concept of a Mathematics Mat. Jan adapted this resource made from shade cloth and tape to classroom size and over the years has developed, constructed and promoted it, introducing it to many schools throughout Queensland and beyond. Jan’s main and lasting contribution to hands-on activities has been through ‘The Mat’. Activities with this mat promote meaningful physical activity and therefore deeper understanding and can be targeted to a fine point. Recognition for The Mat is evident as these mats are in constant use in many classrooms around Queensland, many of them made by Jan herself but others modelled on her mat, which she encouraged teachers to do.
Lastly and to date, Jan has become a member of the YDC team at the Queensland University of Technology. She is still making a difference through effective teaching in the YuMi Deadly Maths Centre where, with Professor Tom Cooper and other team members, she is working to ‘Close The Gap’ with projects designed to enrich and improve the quality of teaching in schools with high numbers of Indigenous or Low SES populations in Queensland and in other states.
Jan has been an active member of QAMT, having been on the executive for 18 years, and has presented workshops at many conferences. Jan was a foundation member of the Primary problems Committee and, for her service to AMT and to Mathematics, particularly in Queensland, she is a worthy recipient of the BH Neumann award.
Jillian being presented with her BH Neumann award by Warren Atkins, inaugural Chair of Primary Problems Committee.
As a 15-year-old Jillian accepted a WA Government bursary to commit to teacher training on completion of Year 12. At just 19 she took up her first position as a classroom teacher with fifty-four Grade 1 and 2 children. As a female teacher, Jillian received just 75% of the male
salary and was required to resign on her marriage in 1961. Still, under bond to the state and with a debt to repay, she could only manage to attract a little short-term teaching work. With the arrival of children, it was clear that her employment opportunities were very limited.
Jillian commenced further study, and finding this enjoyable, continued part-time for many more years. Gradually her opportunities improved and has developed a passion for teaching mathematics she taught continuously in Perth and country WA for twenty-five years, mainly in primary but also in lower secondary and with a stint at Curtin University.
Early on Jillian joined the Mathematical Association of WA (MAWA) and for 26 years served on the committee holding various positions such as conference convenor, journal convenor and professional development officer. When the opportunity arose in 1989, Jillian set up the first MAWA Primary Convention, a two-day event which now continues annually and she also grasped the chance in 1986 to establish the Family Maths Project in WA (FAMPA). As a volunteer, Jillian convened hundreds of after-hours and weekend training workshops for parents and teachers who would then conduct their own school-based Family Maths programs, aimed at making mathematics learning more enjoyable for students and to enhance the participation of girls in particular. As she moved into various roles of teacher professional development in mathematics for the Education Department of WA, Jillian was able to combine her paid and voluntary roles and this program took her into hundreds of schools across the length and breadth of the state. As an inveterate mathematics conference delegate and organiser, Jillian participated and benefited from many states, national and international conferences and is a Life Member of MAWA.
Professionally, Jillian’s career took on new dimensions from 1983 when she began a long period of roles in three district education offices and the Central Office of the Education Department of WA as a mathematics consultant or project officer and leader for several major mathematics education initiatives including curriculum development, the First Steps in Mathematics project and, more recently, Making Consistent Judgements in Mathematics. A major focus while studying had been in the area of problem solving in mathematics and this became a central theme in her work with teachers. Inspired by the success and popularity of Perth’s only mathematics problem-solving centre, Jillian put time into developing two more suburban problem-solving centres and an item bank of 400 hands-on problem-solving tasks to be used in schools which had no access to the original centre. Writing questions for various mathematics competitions was an additional favourite pastime. Still harbouring a desire to work more closely with students and a school community Jillian returned to a school role as a Primary School Principal in 1994 and continued, mainly in this role, in four schools until her retirement in 2008.
In this current end of career period Jillian has indulged her passion for mathematics education by co-authoring a series of mathematics workbooks, teacher resource books and diagnostic assessment books for use in WA Primary schools. She has also self-published a series of puzzle books for the general community. Together with spending precious time with 11 grandchildren Jillian now happily spends her days as a volunteer in a local op shop, squeezing in occasional days of voluntary work in schools, gardening, reading and travelling. Jill is an inaugural member of the Primary Problems Committee and a deserving recipient of the BH Neumann medal for her contribution to the Trust and to Mathematics Education in WA.
Jim being presented with his BH Neumann award by Warren Atkins, inaugural Chair of Primary Problems Committee.
Jim was born in Grafton, in Northern NSW, the second of six children. His early years were dominated by memories of floods and an enormous variety of sporting activities, particularly those involving water. However, he also found time to enjoy mathematics and regularly found himself helping his classmates with their maths problems, the early signs of what was to prove an outstanding teaching career.
Jim received a teaching scholarship to train as a Mathematics teacher at the University of New England in Armidale, where he studied Pure and Applied Mathematics, Statistics and the token requirement of first year Physics and Chemistry. He particularly enjoyed Applied Mathematics and started a Mathematics Problem page in the residential college newsletter that he is till reminded about!
He turned down an offer of a department position in Broken Hill to take a job at Loreto Normanhurst in Sydney and in 1983, while working in Sydney, was married to Therese, with their first child Rebecca arriving in 1985. That year, the family moved to Lismore where his two boys, Nicholas and Christopher were born.
Though primarily teaching Maths, Jim has also taught a range of other subjects, including Computer Applications, and has been a hockey coach for the past 25 years. Since 1990, he has been an Executive Member of the Southern Cross Mathematical Association (SCMA) which, amongst other things, inaugurated a Primary Mathematics Competition which later became managed by the UNSW. Though we could blame Jim for this involvement with our opposition, it was his involvement with creating problems for this competition that led to him being approached by Peter Taylor at the AAMT conference in Brisbane to discuss a new Primary Mathematics Competition to be run by the AMT.
As an executive member of SCMA Jim has been involved in organising mathematics camps, competitions and HSC review days for students, as well as conferences, workshops and professional development for teachers. He has worked on exam committees, syllabus writing teams, and marked HSC and SC examinations for the NSW Board of Studies whilst attending and presenting at many local, state and national mathematics conferences. In 2004 Jim was asked to develop a program for Southern Cross University (SCU) for Post Graduate students who wanted to train as mathematics teachers and has been tutor and seminar presenter for this small group of students since 2005. In 2006 he was awarded a Premier’s Teacher Scholarship to travel to South East Asia and investigate the use of technology in mathematics classrooms. This trip took him to Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong visiting over 15 schools and attending various conferences. This was a wonderful experience to see how mathematics was being taught in other countries and more importantly how technology was being implemented into the mathematics classroom.
Jim now has two grandchildren (Ryan and Kayla) that preoccupy him at every opportunity. Jim is an inaugural member of the Primary Problems Committee and a deserving recipient of the BH Neumann medal for his contribution to the Trust and to Mathematics Education in NSW.
Mike Clapper with Warren Atkins, inaugural Chair of Primary Problems Committee and Peter Taylor, former Executive Director of AMT.
Mike was born in London but was brought up in Manchester, where he attended a local primary school on a council estate, and got a scholarship to go on to Manchester Grammar School. After two years there his family transferred to Southampton, where he was fortunate to attend another well-established school in King Edward VI. He studied Pure and Applied Mathematics for his A levels and won a scholarship to Queen’s College Oxford.
His tutors there were Peter Neumann (son of Bernhard) and Martin Edwards, both brilliant mathematicians. He leaned to the pure mathematics subjects, and his final subjects in his first degree were Number Theory, Combinatorial Theory, Graph Theory and Logic. In Algebraic Number Theory his tutorial partner was Andrew Wiles, who was to become Sir Andrew Wiles who proved Fermat’s Last Theorem.
Mike decided at this point to pursue teaching rather than research. His first appointment was at Trinity School in Croydon, where he was given the Oxford and Cambridge candidate class to teach.
After Trinity, he worked for 12 years in schools in inner London, some of which were pretty rough, but still rewarding. Often he found himself teaching Computer Science when this was still developing and punch cards were used.
In 1977 he met Jo, an Australian having a year’s experience in England. She stayed on then after meeting Mike for a further 11 years, by which stage they had two children. By that stage, he had become Deputy Head of Neasden High School. Jo’s mother in Australia became unwell and they resigned their jobs to move there.
Mike had worked in state schools and assumed he would be employable in the Victorian State system, but he was told he needed to get a Dip Ed. So he gained temporary teaching at St Leonard’s in Brighton and ended up staying there for 11 years. He was appointed Director of Curriculum, taught Mathematics and Computer Science, got involved with the IB program, became passionate about a course on the Theory of Knowledge which he taught, and started getting involved with exam setting in the VCE.
At this time in the early 1990s, new methods of assessment were being trialled and Mike started setting problem-solving and investigation tasks in the Common Assessment Tasks, first under Kaye Stacey and later chairing the panel himself.
In 1998 he took up a Principal’s position at Hunter Valley Grammar School, where he met Jacqui Ramagge, who was at Newcastle University at the time. In 2003, when the Australian Mathematics Trust decided to extend the Australian Mathematics Competition to primary schools, Jacqui recommended Mike’s name to Warren Atkins and he became a foundation member of the AMC Primary Problems Committee.
Mike has been on this committee since then and also joined the secondary committee a year later.
In 2005 Mike transferred back to Victoria to take up the Principal position at Gippsland Grammar in Sale, and later took up the Executive Principal position at both Gippsland Grammar, which had Secondary and Primary Schools based on Sale and a later campus at Bairnsdale, and from 2010 also the St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School at Warragul.
During this later period in Victoria, Mike was the AHISA rep on the VCAA State reference group for the Australian Curriculum.
In 2012 Mike took over from Warren Atkins as the Chair of the two AMC Problems Committees, and since 1 January this year he has taken up the position of Executive Director of the Australian Mathematics Trust.
In view of Mike’s sustained contributions to mathematics education, in particular mathematics enrichment beyond the standard classroom, Mike was recommended and approved for a BH Neumann Award of the Trust, and it gives me very great pleasure to award it to him tonight.
15 June 2013
When Karen was at primary school in Armidale, mathematics was the last thing she would have predicted to feature so prominently in her adult life, because she found it hard, boring and it didn’t make any particular sense. Being kept in all recess in Year 3 because she could not read analogue time, and completing endless SRA maths kit cards in Year 6 did nothing to foster her love for the subject.
Karen’s view about maths began to change, however, at Armidale High School, where she was taught by an enthusiastic, young, football playing maths guru. In Year 8, she discovered the amazing world of Tessellations in Nature and won a calculator for her project, which inspired her to study 3 Unit Maths for the HSC. After high school she earned an Honours Degree in Psychology from UNE, with a minor in Mathematics. A PhD and potential academic career was now a very tempting option but Karen has always preferred practice to theory, so compromised, and put extra time into a double Graduate Diploma in Education with additional subjects and practicums which qualified her for teaching primary as well as mathematics in secondary school.
Karen started her professional teaching career at a prestigious Sydney secondary girls’ school, where she discovered that the girls generally rated maths on a scale from ‘dislike it’ to ‘seriously detest it.’ This negativity was reinforced in a parent teacher interview in which one mother tried to comfort her with the statement: “Oh don’t worry if my daughter can’t do maths – I couldn’t do it when I was at school either.” KarenI was appalled that hating maths was not only viewed as normal but now was also genetic. At that moment she realised that, although definitely in the right job, she was teaching in the wrong place. In order to make significant changes to how children and their parents viewed mathematics, she had to get to them earlier in their education.
Her first primary position was in a remote three-teacher school in the North Western District where she slowly learned how to engage young children in mathematics with a range of hands on activities and rich peer discussion. She also found that it is not unusual to bring a pet lamb to school for news (which was fine) though the pet legless lizard was less welcome (because it looked like a baby Eastern Brown snake and caused chaos when it escaped from its jar).
After five years, her transfer points allowed Karen to select almost any school in NSW. After carerful research, she chose Newcastle (the ideal city) and her current school because of its size, location and proximity to swimming pools. It was just good luck that it also happened to be one of the best primary schools in NSW. Moving to Newcastle gave her further educational opportunities. She completed TAFE certificates in Information Technology III and Web Site Production IV. Later, she obtained a Graduate Certificate in Elementary Mathematics at Newcastle University. This led to tutoring for several years on the First Year Elementary Mathematics Course at Newcastle University. Karen also presented a K-8 workshop on aspects of Primary Mathematics for the Newcastle Mathematics Association. It was through the contacts established at the university that Karen was asked to join the AMC Primary Problem Solving Committee, which she has been a part of since its inception. Through her association with the maths committee and subsequent experimentation on her own class, Karen has learned much more about how children work mathematically and their need to have access to a variety of skills in order to successfully solve maths problems.
Karen began running maths evenings for parents to show them the practical ways children were being taught to use mental strategies in class to solve maths problems. This happened because Karen became increasingly aware of the importance of establishing a partnership between teachers and parents to help their young children became capable and confident mathematicians. The response from parents was extremely positive, although families still tend to send the ‘Dads’ along as they ‘know how to do maths’ whereas frequently it is the mothers who sit with the children when challenged to explain: “How do I subtract these numbers?” and then cope with the tears when the child wails: “But that’s not how we do it at school.”
Karen still finds her day-to-day working with children to be the most satisfying thing that she can imagine doing. Encouraging young students to have a go, to challenge themselves, to ask questions and discuss ideas without fear of reprisal or criticism, to build, to experiment and to discover, is what makes teaching the best job on the planet. Nothing can beat the joy on children’s faces when they rush out the door to tell their parents that they can multiply 16 and 25 in their head (using the half-double strategy) or the ‘ah ha’ moment when they realise that the 7 digit number on the board is divisible by nine because they have just discovered the pattern of adding the number’s digits. These moments may help our next generation to develop a love of learning which will be with them for life and Karen will have been a part of their inspiration.
Karen’s contribution to Primary Mathematics in the Newcastle area and as a member of the Problems committee make her a worthy recipient of the BH Neumann award.