‘Mathematics is integral to our understanding of the natural world around us and to developing new technologies.’
When I was six months old, my parents gave me a present of an abacus for Christmas and I like to joke that my destiny was sealed from that point on! Mathematics was my favourite subject at school and I would happily spend hours solving problems and doing puzzles as a child.
Then, when I studied Applied Mathematical Sciences at DCU as an undergraduate, I came to realise how vital a role mathematics plays in our everyday lives, and how integral it is to understanding the natural world around us and to developing new technologies to progress society.
After my undergraduate degree, I completed a PhD in asymptotic analysis. As a postgraduate student, I tutored on a lot of different modules and realised how interested I was in the practices of teaching and learning. I’m particularly interested in the types of activities or tasks with which we engage students and how effective they are in fostering different aspects of mathematical thinking.
Empowering teachers to inspire students
Education is so important and empowering. It is the key to opportunity, success and a better life for our young people. Teachers play such an important role in children's lives. We must prepare teachers of the highest quality to inspire and mentor our children as well as facilitate their learning.
When I tell people I am a mathematics lecturer, they often respond with 'I always hated Maths' or 'I was never good at Maths' and I feel the education system has failed them. Although maths is sometimes seen as elitist, I am a firm believer that maths is for everyone. It’s really important that we work to ensure that our education system caters for all learners, and recognises and rewards different facets of mathematical thinking.
I always advise students to keep learning! Stay open to new ideas and technologies and changes in practice. As (student) teachers, it is also really important to connect to your pupils – their interests, their strengths, their individual needs.
Sinead Breen, School of Mathematical Sciences
Programme chair, BSc in Science Education