Although many of my friends would describe me as their ‘maths friend’, I was not always that person. I started off loving solving puzzles and thinking critically. My father was a lover of mathematics himself, and so he was a constant source of puzzles in my and my brother’s life. While this was always a fun part of my day, for as long as I can remember, helping people was my biggest motivation in life, perfectly summed up by the ‘Most helpful award’ I won in the fourth grade. Through the years I realised that one way to do this was teaching, and mathematics was put on the back burner. In fact, it wasn’t even one of my year 11 subjects at first. However, a mere month into year 11 without mathematics caused me to have a change of heart. I came to the conclusion that the mathematical problem-solving in my life kept my brain stimulated and excited to do more, and without it I was unmotivated. Thus, I came to the conclusion of teaching mathematics.
University was where I truly discovered my passion for mathematics, specifically pure mathematics. The rigorous way of thinking and building upon theory to form new ideas invigorated me. While being a teacher was still very important to me, I found myself wanting to do more and more mathematics at university. I have now attended two Summer schools run by AMSI, and have just completed this vacation research project. Further, I am now going into my honours year, and I am very excited to see what the future holds. While my end goal remains the same, my path to teaching may be different than I had originally planned.
During my teaching degree, I have found not only are there so few students that are interested in mathematics, but also the number of females is appalling. When I spoke to students about their decisions to not do mathematics, this often came down to bad teachers. Hence, I am a strong advocate for passionate and knowledgeable mathematicians teaching from much earlier on than just university. I believe that by strengthening my knowledge base, and by being as passionate as I am about the subject, I may be able to bring about true change to at least my 100 or so students each year, if not in the bigger mathematical scene itself. Further, by being a role-model for my female students, hopefully I will be able to encourage a lot more women to enter the beautiful field that is mathematics.
Siksha Sivaramakrishnan was a recipient of a 2018/19 AMSI Vacation Research Scholarship.