5 minutes with Dr Vicky Neale

via Millennium Mathematics Project – maths.org

“Dr Vicky Neale (Mathematical Institute and Balliol College, Oxford) talks to Plus, our online mathematics magazine, about why she loves hard maths, some of her favourite mathematical moments, and why fearlessness is an important quality for a mathematician.”

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New findings on secondary students’ negative views about setting – ‘Best Practice in Grouping Students’ research team, UCL

New findings on secondary students’ negative views about setting

“In her recent paper [accessible online hereProfessor Louise Archer, along with the ‘Best Practice in Grouping Students’ research team, has proposed that setting represents a process through which the social and cultural reproduction of inequality and dominant power relations are enacted within schools.”

 

Mathematics: The Next Generation by Professor Peter Cameron – 2013 LMS/Gresham College Lecture

“Mathematics is important to us all. So it is important to enable young mathematicians, clear-thinking and passionate about their subject, to contribute at the highest level. Peter Cameron will talk about his experience designing and presenting a course for first-semester university students aiming to produce mathematicians.”

A perspective on teaching mixed attainment

mho maths

In a world first for this blog, I have a guest post!

The power of collaboration and Twitter has led me to Bruce Gray (@bucksburnMaths)  who teaches in Bucksburn Academy in Aberdeen.  I am a recent convert to teaching mathematics in mixed attainment groups rather than sets but I am a pragmatist at heart and fully understand the reservations and difficulties with this approach.  It is not a small decision for a maths department to switch from teaching in sets to mixed attainment groups, especially if other subjects retain sets as my school does.  My summary of how to do it which I have written about before:

  1. Collaboration and co-planning must be part of it 
  2. Do it one year at a time, i.e. start in Year 7, and review each year

To find out more, check out www.mixedattainmentmaths.com.  The first #mixedattainmentmaths conference was held in January and plans are being…

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Setting goals as a mathematician

The Intrepid Mathematician

I finished my eighth half marathon last weekend. Since I started running in 2004, I finished six marathons and several 10k and 5k races. I enjoy running longer distances. Although I’m not a competitive runner, I am proud of my running achievements.

Running gives me time to think. Mathematical proofs have popped into my head during training runs. Beyond that, running a long distance like a half or full marathon is a goal. A hard, but realistic goal that is feasible with the appropriate training.

Cu5xE6AW8AAZuFe.jpg Souvenirs of a hard run 21.1 K.

Goals form a critical part of every successful mathematician’s tool chest. They provide us a path forward, and without them, we lack direction. One of the things I have noticed with newly graduated doctoral students is that they often experience post-PhD limbo: there are no more formal expectations from their University or supervisor. Post-docs or fresh Assistant Professors either start…

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Toward a culture of tolerating ignorance

Gravity and Levity

Lately I have seen an increasingly honest, and increasingly public discussion about the feelings of inadequacy that come with trying to be a scientist.

For example, here Anshul Kogar writes about the “Crises in Confidence” that almost invariably come with trying to do a PhD.

In this really terrific account, Inna Vishik tells the story of her PhD in physics, and the various emotional phases that come with it: from “hubris” to “feeling like a fraud”.

I might as well add my own brief admissions to this discussion:

  • More or less every day, I struggle with feeling like I am insufficiently intelligent, insufficiently hardworking, and insufficiently creative to be a physicist.
  • These feelings have persisted since the beginning of my undergraduate years, and I expect them to continue in some form or another throughout the remainder of my career.
  • I often feel like what few successes I’ve had were…

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