I’ve Applied for a Master of Mathematics Degree!

Probably the most exciting thing I’ve done during these last few months in lockdown is apply for the Master of Mathematics degree from UNSW. I’m just waiting on the acceptance and processing of the application, and fingers crossed that I get a Commonwealth Supported Place!

I’ve been meaning to go back to university to study more Mathematics. It’s been about 10 years since I graduated from my Undergraduate Mathematics degree in 2012.

Why UNSW?

Well, I looked at the Master of Mathematical Sciences from USYD, and I was pretty much barred from studying many of the courses they had on offer as I had already completed a vast majority of them in my undergraduate degree. I’d literally be shoe-horned into studying some insanely difficult things that I don’t think I am in prime shape for (yet!), or forced to take more Applied Mathematics subjects than I’d like or Statistics.

I also want another shot at some of those subjects that I took in my undergraduate degree that I probably wasn’t ready for back then such as Modules and Representation Theory. Hopefully I’ll be more ready and academically mature this time around! Not to mention, a fresh and alternative teaching perspective from a university I haven’t studied in before about these topics would be a great learning experience.

I also want to learn the topics that I didn’t get a chance to cover in my undergraduate degree such as Algebraic Topology, Functional Analysis and Harmonic Analysis.

Why More Maths When You’re Teaching High School?

I get this question a lot about why I studied, or am studying, so much Mathematics beyond what is required of teaching the HSC.

There’s several reasons why:

  1. I love the Mathematics for the sake of it which transcends any job description, even if that job is as a high school Mathematics teacher. Learning is an ongoing process.
  2. Knowledge of a more developed theory gives a better context to what you’re teaching, even at the high school level or even primary. Especially when the HSC syllabus prefaces certain concepts as “informal introductions” in its treatment of functions, limits, continuity and calculus, or is just outright incorrect in its definition of Random Variables.
    The truth is obscured in these situations and often the wrong thing can be taught to students – I cry every time I hear stories of teachers teaching the wrong thing to their students. This is also the reason why I did a non-combined BSc(AdvMath) degree where I could concentrate purely on learning Mathematics properly, and not be burdened with writing essays about teaching philosophies for 5 years before being allowed to step into a school to teach Mathematics.
  3. I’ve given thought to what I want to do with my teaching career. I don’t want to climb the political ladder of going from a classroom teacher to a leader in education who justifies my job by pushing hipster views about new-age education philosophies, or an administrative slave high up in the offices who saunters off to meetings after meetings.
    Instead, I want to be someone fellow teachers and students look to as a source of Mathematics content authority. Dr Bill Pender is getting old, it’s time someone younger in the NSW high school Mathematics community provided authority as strong and vocal as he did. Part of doing that comes from holding a piece of paper that shows you’ve done the hard yards (and hopefully I’ll do a PhD one day, but let’s take it one step at a time!)
  4. I’d like to have the option of being able to teach at university one day and do Mathematics research. Unfortunately, that basically requires you to have a Doctorate, which I don’t have yet. A Master’s degree is a stepping stone in the right direction.

Well that’s it. I’m excited to start!

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