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Secondary Magazine - Issue 56: The interview

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 18 March 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 31 March 2010 by ncetm_administrator


Secondary Magazine Issue 56microphone

The Interview

Name: Bryony Black
About you: I am the NCETM Regional Coordinator in Yorkshire and the Humber.
The most recent use of mathematics in your job was...
Well, I use it all the time, but today I have been trying to plan out my day, estimating how long each task will take and prioritising so that I get everything done.
Some mathematics that amazed you is...
I love coincidences – meeting someone with the same birthday as me, bumping into people in the most unlikely places, and so on. It’s interesting to discover that most of these can be explained mathematically – for example, to have a 50-50 chance of two people in a room having the same birthday, you only need 23 people to be there!
Why mathematics?
Because teaching music would have been too noisy…sounds flippant, but I studied maths and music at university and loved them both.

Your favourite/most significant mathematics-related anecdote is…
I taught mathematics in Namibia for two years. The students were absolutely fantastic, but no-one seemed to have mentioned to them that maths had anything to do with real life. I spent ages working on negative numbers with them, using all my usual examples: lifts going to the basement (all buildings were one storey high); bank accounts going into the red (no one had a bank account); temperatures going below zero (it was boiling hot all the time)…I really thought they had got it, until I set them a homework to make up some wordy negative numbers problems themselves. They came back with things like “I have -15 donkeys. I lose 7 of them. How many do I have left?”, and “I have -24 fruits,12 of them are bad. How many can I eat?”. All the answers they gave made mathematical sense, but I’m just not sure what -15 donkeys would look like. 
A mathematics joke that makes you laugh is...
“Why did the maths book cry?” “Because it had so many problems!” This was made up by a 10-year-old-child in Singapore – I searched for absolutely ages to try and find a maths joke that was actually funny, but they are few and far between!
Something else that makes you laugh is...
My husband. 

Your favourite television programme is…
Come Dine With Me.
Your favourite ice-cream flavour is...
Vanilla. Boring, I know. 
Who inspired you?
My crazy maths teacher who taught me for GCSE (Mr Hatton). He was a bit like a mad professor – I remember one lesson where he didn’t turn up for ages, so we all sat around chatting, wondering where he was, and about 10 minutes before the end of the lesson he suddenly appeared out of the cupboard, looking very surprised to see us!  I admired his brain, and never really noticed that he only taught the top sets… 

If you weren’t doing this job you would…

be up a mountain. 

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