As the eldest child of an accountant, I was probably fated to love math from the very beginning. My father declared that I would be his “Baby Bean Counter” while I was still in utero, and I’ve been living up to the title ever since. As a kid, I loved to group, sort and organize things. While some kids like to turn piles of beads into necklaces and bracelets, I much preferred to sort them by colour, and then line them up in the order they appeared in a rainbow. Living with an accountant, sorting beads quickly became sorting coins, which became adding up the lint-covered money pulled from the depths of my Dad’s work-pants pockets along the side of the bathtub. By the time I was 5 or 6, I had been known to ask for math questions instead of bedtime stories on more than one occasion.
The first time I can remember helping a classmate with math took place in grade 2. In grade 3, I got into my first mathematical debate regarding the quotient of 3 divided by 0. Even now I remain steadfast in my conviction that my answer of infinity was far closer to the truth than my classmate’s response of 0. I started tutoring mathematics privately when I was in grade 9, by which time I was a full year ahead of my classmates in the subject, and serving as an in-class tutor as well. As I’m sure you can imagine, that was not a move that bought me a lot of social capital. I tutored through the remainder of high school, and into my undergraduate career at Quest University Canada. Through my third and fourth years at Quest, I worked as a Peer Tutor in the Learning Commons, as well as a course specialist and key member of the Quantitative Reasoning tutoring team.
I graduated from Quest in 2019, having spent the last two years of my degree focusing my studies on the question, “How can curiosity motivate mathematical exploration?” I wanted to understand what calls some people to fiercely love the orderly, inherently creative pursuit of mathematics, while its’ mere mention sends others running. Screaming. As a tutor, I strive to create educational support for my clients that is attentive to their interests and encourage them to be curious, while developing their self-confidence and appreciation of mathematics along the way. I by no means think everyone ought to love mathematics, but I would love to help a few people hate it just a little less vehemently.
In my final year at Quest, I was introduced to the world of independent mathematics research, and fell in love. Math research must not have been quite nerdy enough for me though, and I ended up studying the history of mathematics. Specifically, I conducted research on the development of the tangent function (from trigonometry), in Europe in the 1400s and 1500s. My research came to some really fascinating conclusions, which I will be building upon through my Master’s degree, starting in the fall of 2020. One day, when I grow up, I plan to use my knowledge of the history of math to help reintegrate a historical narrative into mathematics education. Wouldn’t trig be more fun if it we reconnected it to its origin story, and made it about astronomy, and ancient discoveries about the size and the shape of the earth? I think so.
When I’m not lost in my new favourite Excel sheet, or digging through long-forgotten manuscripts I love to social dance (Salsa, Bachata, Lindy-hop and West Coast Swing are a few favourites…), read and travel.