In this article, Jonathan shares his journey from concert violinist to Maths researcher and Matrix teacher.
My name is Jonathan Mui, I am currently a Maths teacher at Matrix. I also help the Maths team with resource development, with a particular focus on the stage 6 Extension courses.
I am currently a PhD research student and tutor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney.
In fact, I hold an honours degree from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and have performed solo and ensemble concerts around the world.
As a mathematician, my main interest is in the analysis of partial differential equations (PDEs). Even within pure mathematics, the theory of PDEs is rich and extremely diverse. Unfortunately, I developed focal dystonia in my left hand some years ago, which lead to a change in career. Nevertheless, I am still passionate about music and, in particular, I enjoy writing and arranging music in my spare time.
Moreover, these equations are used in just about any quantitative discipline you can imagine, so that there are many opportunities to branch out into more applied fields of study.
I had done some tutoring in my honours year in the School of Mathematics at the University of Sydney. However, I was interested in a more substantial teaching role. Although I did not attend any tutoring when I was in high school, I was interested in working with students outside of the regular school context.
I felt I could play a dual role in supporting students to excel in curriculum maths, as well as providing additional insight to students who were looking to broaden their mathematical horizons.
On paper, my role as a teacher is straightforward. I prepare and teach my weekly classes and mark the quizzes. However, a teacher at Matrix can actually take on quite a variety of tasks.
Since the beginning of 2020, I have been involved in resource development, a role that runs parallel to my teaching commitments. More recently, with the launch of Matrix+ online courses, I have also recorded video lessons.
The highlight of my Matrix career so far has not really been a single event. But, rather, the entire process of creating brand new resources for the Maths Extension 2 syllabus.
I was involved with the project end to end:
In fact, the project is still active, and I have been reviewing the material for each term based on the experience of teaching the new syllabus for the first time in 2020.
Recording video lessons for Matrix+ was definitely a learning experience. I find it much more challenging than in-person classes.
In my opinion, the preparation, the structure of the lesson as well as the delivery of the content all need to be adjusted for video. I am still trying to improve the presentation of my video lessons.
Although the company is spread out across five campuses, there is nonetheless a solid sense of teamwork. For example, I appreciate especially the opportunity to discuss teaching tips and strategies at the quarterly maths team meetings.
When I was new to Matrix, I found all my colleagues very welcoming and eager to help out, and so it was easy to settle in.
Matrix is a really collegial place to work. Future colleagues at Matrix will find a relaxed, friendly, supportive environment with enthusiastic colleagues.
For those who are newer to teaching (such as myself when I first started), you will also find opportunities to develop your skills, such as peer observation.
It is difficult to say, exactly, where I see myself in five years. On one hand, I would like to continue doing research in mathematics if possible. On the other hand, it would certainly be interesting to work for research organisations such as CSIRO with connections to industry. In general, I think Mathematicians should be like chameleons! In any scientific discipline, it is of greatest importance to be able to explain complex ideas in a clear and precise manner, and to different audiences as well.
Through teaching at Matrix, I have certainly improved in explaining clearly.
Moreover, having had the experiences of teaching online classes and developing curriculum resources, I would feel confident in seeking further teaching roles in schools or universities, as the classroom and lecture environments continue to evolve.