Australian Maths Trust


The 2003 BH Neumann Awardees were Edward Brennan, Michael Deakin and Lorraine Mottershead. They were presented with their awards at separate ceremonies and their citations follow.

A BH Neumann Award was presented to Edward Robert (Ted) Brennan at the Quay West Hotel, Brisbane, on Friday 09 May 2003.

Ted with (from left) daughter Alison, wife Judith, son James and Peter Taylor.

Ted Brennan creates a first in the BH Neumann Awards by being the first moderator of a competition paper to win it.

Ted has not just been a moderator. In fact he was one of the earliest moderators of the Australian Mathematics Competition for the Westpac Awards and has continued as such through its 25 years.

He was recruited to be an AMC Moderator late in 1978 by Peter O’Halloran when he visited Brisbane State High School to interview a sample of successful students in the first AMC held that year.

I have been Problems Committee Chairman during much of that period and the other Chairman, Warren Atkins (who is here tonight) would also testify to the legendary status achieved by Ted’s reports.

Moderators are provided each year with the questions only, are asked to solve them and comment on suitability of problems within their state. Beautifully written and presented, every year Ted has provided complete, where possible solutions of his own and profound insights into the suitability of each problem. Ted’s comments, which surely take many hours every year to write, have become the yardstick of the committee’s deliberations.

Ted’s prime claim to this award is through his contributions as outlined above. But he also has many other claims, and he is a model of his profession in showing extraordinary service to education, education in the public system in Queensland and mathematics education in particular.

Let us go over a little of his career. He was born shortly after the war in Bundaberg but grew up in Brisbane.

He completed his secondary education at Mitchelton High School which in the early 1960s was effectively an area school for students in the North-West of Brisbane.

He particularly valued the influence of several Mathematics teachers there who gave him an appreciation of Mathematical rigour, the nature of proof and strategies for solving problems. He also enjoyed the stimulation of studying with a good number of able students.

He completed a B.Sc. at the University of Queensland, taking Pure, Applied and Statistical Mathematics all to Third Year level. He valued the high quality of the teaching in the University of Queensland Mathematics Department. He then completed a Dip Ed, did some tutoring of First Year Pure Mathematics classes during his last two years at University, and later, while teaching, completed an Education Degree majoring in History of Education.

He is especially grateful for the value his parents placed on education and for their determination, despite limited means, to ensure that their four children all had a tertiary education.

After teaching at Warwick and Kelvin Grove High Schools he was appointed joint Head of the Mathematics Department at Brisbane State High School in 1977. Brisbane State High had 1900 students and is the oldest government secondary school in the city. It is a member of the GPS Sporting Associations. It is selective in academic, sporting and cultural spheres.

At “State High” he had the privilege of working with many experienced and highly committed teachers who worked hard for the school six days per week year in and year out. From them he learnt a good deal about effective classroom teaching and the importance of striving for excellence in all aspects of school life. He enjoyed running a large Maths Department and the challenge of seeking to maintain academic standards in the early years after the abolition of External Public Examinations for most students in Queensland.

He had the opportunity of teaching quite a number of outstanding students, some of whom did very well in the AMC and other enrichment activities.

He was also heavily involved in the coaching and organisation of school cricket and debating.

Towards the end of his ten years at State High he had a couple of spells as an Acting Deputy Principal.

He was appointed a Deputy Principal of Wavell High School in the northern suburbs of Brisbane in 1987 and is still there! He has been acting Principal on a number of occasions.

He continues to teach Mathematics to Matriculation level and thoroughly enjoys doing so. He believes that as far as possible every school administrator should teach – the stimulation of classroom teaching helps keep the purpose of the school in perspective. He is particularly committed to effective school organisation as a foundation for producing good student results and has written a book on school timetabling.

He was involved for 14 years in the process of setting the External Senior Mathematics I papers for what is now the Queensland Studies Authority; firstly as an Assessor (like an AMC Moderator), then as Assistant Chief Examiner for four years and as Chief Examiner 1996 – 1998.

Peter Taylor
09 May 2003

A BH Neumann Award was presented to Michael Deakin at ET’s Restaurant, 211 High Street, Prahran, on Friday 16 May 2003.

Michael and family. From left Adrian’s partner Jasmin, son Adrian, Michael, wife Rayda and Peter Taylor.

Michael Deakin earns a BH Neumann Award on the basis of a rich and varied commitment to mathematics enrichment. At the secondary level, this is most noted by 21 years service on the Editorial Board of the school mathematics Journal Function, most of which has been as Chief Editor. The value of journals such as this cannot be underestimated, as they provide major capacity for students to develop their knowledge and appreciation of mathematics.

Michael’s particular mathematics contribution to this Journal, the Australian Mathematics Society Gazette, many other journals, books and in other forms have also enriched the student population, the mathematics profession and community generally.

This has mainly happened through his interest in the history of mathematics, applications of mathematics (particularly in biology) and pedagogy. His work in history includes a definitive history of the Laplace Transform (which appeared in four parts in Archive for History of Exact Sciences), biographies of Hypatia of Alexandria and the mathematician HS Carslaw and frequent contributions on Gender and Mathematicians, particularly the contribution of a number of distinguished female mathematicians.

Having obtained an honours degree at the University of Melbourne in 1961, Michael proceeded to a Masters degree there in 1963, while serving as Senior Tutor and Acting Lecturer. From 1963 to 1966 he was a University Fellow at the University of Chicago, during which time he completed a PhD. From 1967 to 1969 he was a Lecturer at Monash University and then served three years, from 1970 to 1972 as Reader-in-Charge, in the Department of Mathematics at ITHE in Papua New Guinea. In 1973 he returned to Monash as a Senior Lecturer and held that post until his recent retirement.

Almost uniquely among University mathematicians, Michael showed his interest in Education by obtaining a qualification in that area, an MEd at Exeter in 1975.

Michael has shown an interest in education in the developing countries of this region by taking on consultancies not only in Papua New Guinea, but also in Indonesia between 1986 and 1994.

Michael was one of the most active members of the Monash Mathematics staff. Not only did he undertake the research roles outlined above and in Applied Mathematics, he was also one of the leaders in developing better teaching techniques at the tertiary level and supplying resources to students. He was a pioneer in introducing courses on modelling to students and received very favourable ratings by students. He was a member of Monash’s “Tertiary Teaching” research group, and the only member to publish in this area. At Monash he was versatile, teaching also Statistics to third-year level, various units in Pure Mathematics and was involved with a wide variety of the normally less-popular service teaching.

Michael has fully earned this award with a very wide record of service.

Peter Taylor
16 May 2003

A BH Neumann Award was presented to Lorraine Mottershead at The Scarth Room, University House, ANU, Canberra, on Saturday 31 May 2003.

Lorraine with her son David Grant Mottershead after the presentation.

It would be fair to say that Lorraine’s claim to a BH Neumann award would be justified alone on her sustained service since 1992 to the work of the Problems Committee of the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians, to which she has been a rich contributor, not just in the supply of ideas, but also in the work of developing and editing the problems, especially those selected for use.

However, typical of most winners, Lorraine also has a rich and varied career in the whole field of mathematics teaching, particularly with her interest in visual presentation and publication of quality material, and with a personal interest in working with students to develop their knowledge.

Lorraine was born in Kurri Kurri during the war to a Scottish father and an Aussie schoolteacher mother. Her early life was spent at Woonona, Bringagee (a remote siding in the M.I.A.) and in the bush at North Manly. It was here that the influence of her mother, struggling to overcome many hardships, made her appreciate the simple things in life – the love of nature, colours, patterns and art. This probably also influenced her love of geometry at school. The formative Primary years were spent at Manly West School, followed by five “pioneering” years at Narrabeen Girls High, with school representation in hockey and cricket!

Although her ambition was to be a surgeon, Biology became a more appealing option for her, with Leaving Certificate success came a scholarship and teacher training in Biology and Mathematics.

First appointed to Burwood Girls High in 1961 to teach senior Biology (classes with over 50 students being common), Lorraine’s life course was altered dramatically by the introduction of the Wyndham Scheme, where in Mathematics 10% of the Syllabus was designated to a Balance-of-the-Course component. Teachers were given freedom to investigate any topics of interest – to themselves or the students! Quickly realising the great opportunity to “experiment”, to teach “differently” and to motivate and challenge students, Lorraine integrated her pet subjects (P.E., Biology, Mathematics, Art and Language) into Friday afternoon fun which “disguised” the underlying mathematics skills.

So began a lifelong passion for the magic of mathematics. Claiming modestly to be a “slow learner” she sympathised with those who struggled and was complimented for her teaching strategies, skills and patience with problem learners.

Thus followed hundreds of fordigraph stencils that became the framework of her earliest enrichment books, Kaleidoscope, Mosaic, Metamorphosis, and Spirolaterals. Inspector Peg Playford encouraged her to send articles to a teachers’ journal, the Bulletin. Besides playing first grade hockey and basketball, any spare time was spent doodling with tessellations or polyominoes and devouring Martin Gardner’s articles in the Scientific American – one of her first great influences. This whetted her thirst temporarily, broadened her horizons and fuelled her aim to persevere with different learning and teaching methods.

In 1966 Lorraine was appointed Acting Mathematics Master to Beacon Hill High School, after which Lorraine married and a son David Grant was born in 1968. With an adventurous spirit, the family spent 5 colourful and cultural years in Penang, Malaysia (teaching English, Mathematics, Science, Geography and Social Studies and being Supervisor of Girls) before returning home.

Then followed 11 years teaching at Manly Girls High School where she was promoted in 1975 to a Special Master (List 2), held a copper/art exhibition in 1973, was asked to write an article for Cleo entitled “What is a Nice Girl Like You Doing Counting on her Fingers?” and was involved in making an ABC film on mathematics.

A wide variety of opportunities emerged including experience as Form Mistress, spurred on by a very innovative Principal. Lorraine was involved in devising resources and trialling such things as a Reading-Across-the-Curriculum Program, Transition Education, a Multicultural Program, Language in Mathematics, Personal Development and Slow Learner Programs, promoting Girls-in-Mathematics/Science courses and the individualised Scottish Module Mathematics (exclusive to only 5 NSW schools). The latter was in kit form and had many hands-on materials, group work and individualised instruction. As a result, Lorraine attended and helped organise many in-service courses, as well as regional and state conferences, eventually being a founding member of local committees such as the Personal Development Group, the North Sydney Regional Mathematics Association (Vice-President) and the NSR K-12 Committee, before joining the MANSW Executive for 4 years.

Involvement in writing a senior Syllabus course in the late 1970s enabled Lorraine to contribute to the writing of resource books and textbooks (the MathsWorld and MathsWorks series). She has recently passed the production of 50 books and has over one million books “out there, somewhere”, both in Australia and overseas.

Appointed to Mackellar Girls High School in 1985, Lorraine’s main contribution was in setting up the PandA Scheme (Progress and Achievement), an ongoing, discipline-welfare blueprint for entire years and selected “problem” students in Years 9, 10 and 11. It had a peer-support component.

After her husband’s death in 1988, she made some life changes and concentrated full-time on books and keeping fit. In 1992, with the hope of meeting Benoit Mandelbrot, she attended ICME 7 in Québec, Canada. Here, by chance, she shared an (underground!) coffee break with Peter O’Halloran which changed her future once again.

Peter convinced her she could contribute something to his “vision” and so she was recruited to his newest “embryonic” committee, the Challenge. (At the same Conference Paul Scott recruited her as an editor for the Australian Mathematics Teacher.)

Besides a love of music, art, theatre, cryptic crosswords, sport, swimming, photography, cappuccinos, massages and quiet times, she displays typical Virgo characteristics – determined, stubborn, analytical, meticulous, sensitive, patient and a hard-worker who is dedicated to caring and sharing.

Lorraine’s future dreams include becoming more computer literate, to discover something, to give her 100th blood donation, to activate any latent talents, to paint portraits, to see more of this wonderful world (with someone!) and to keep healthy, contented and active until the age of 88 (or the next palindromic number after that!).

Lorraine, you have certainly added extra dimensions to the life of those of us on the Challenge Committee who are with you tonight to share this moment.

It is a very great pleasure to present this award.

Peter Taylor
31 May 2003