Mr Ross Slater


Ross SLATERLife before Girton

Up until the age of 23 I dedicated my life to Mathematics. From doing additional maths work before breakfast in primary school so I could play cards with my Nanna instead of doing homework, life had been about mathematics and life was good. In the naivety of my fallow years post university, I foolishly decided I needed to get a ‘real’ job and leave behind the green pastures of mathematics – big mistake. I have filed those years under ‘E’ for Experience – it really is the hardest teacher.

Eventually I heard an unmistakable sound – it was mathematics calling. So I returned to the mathematics fold through teaching, like a prodigal son returns to his family. Thus began a journey that has taken me far and wide from Caulfield in Melbourne to one part of Bendigo and then to another part of Bendigo. It has been a journey.

  • Bachelor of Science (Mathematics & Statistics) (Honours) – La Trobe University, Bundoora
  • Diploma of Education (Secondary) – La Trobe University, Bundoora
  • Glen Eira College, East Caulfield
  • Bendigo Senior Secondary College

What I Love about Teaching

When you are working side by side with student s and you can see them making the connections between concepts; when you introduce students to new ideas and you can see them drawing on what they already know to understand a problem, when you can see a student’s knowledge and understanding growing right in front of you; when you see student’s endeavour, effort, hard work and persistence rewarded with greater understanding;  when you see students passionate and enthusiastic about subjects and the wonder of students when they discover new ideas or say things like ‘I want to learn more about… ‘ or ‘that was really interesting, I’m going to find out more about that..’ or ‘Now I understand that..’; These are the things I will never tire of as a teacher. These are the things that make teaching such a rewarding profession.

Girton is a great place to teach because of the collegiate nature of the staff and the optimism and enthusiasm of the students.

What do you like best about the subject/s you teach?

Mathematics is life. Why would you want to study anything else? You might add some Physics for context but really Mathematics is the key. The truly great abstract concepts in the world and the things that will really make you think are contained in the field of Mathematics.

Mathematics teaches you to think analytically, to work from the concrete to the abstract. Its applications are wide and varied, employers want people with the logical thinking and analytical skills that come from studying mathematics. This is across a variety of industries from commerce to IT, from health to telecommunications, from marketing to engineering. Mathematics is the key.

My favourite classroom activity

My favourite classroom activity Is introducing students to the wondrous and amazing history of Mathematics and this is intertwined through everything that I teach. Did you know Pythagoras started a cult in ancient Greece? Yes the Pythagoreans were a cult of Mathematics, and Pythagoras thereom was probably developed by the ancient Babylonians not Pythagoras yet he gets all the credit. Fascinating isn’t it?

Unpacking the history of mathematics humanises the study of this great and glorious field and it peaks the interest of students and makes it more relevant to students.

Students love the history of mathematics because it puts studying mathematics in the context of human endeavour. It shows Mathematics is not a staid set of rules but a dynamic field that involves people, personalities and ideas; agreement, disagreement and decades of hard work.

It makes you wonder how a humble human being like you or I (well perhaps a lot smarter than you or I) is able to develop an idea of such simple grace and beauty as a mathematical concept. Discovering the fascinating history of Mathematics makes studying mathematics even more interesting to students.

What difference can good teaching make?

The traits of a successful student in Mathematics is someone who is accepting of challenges and is persistent, someone who is willing to lose themselves in thought to consider abstract concepts, someone willing to explore many different options, different possibilities and alternative ways to solve problems.

I hope my passion and enthusiasm for Mathematics is obvious through my teaching and that some of this verve for all things mathematical might transfer to the students that I teach; that their interest in mathematics may be fostered and grow and that there future pathways in mathematics might be enhanced and the notion of ‘dropping’ Maths won’t be considered.

Other Hats

Co-curricular:
Volleyball

I am interested in determining a function that can predict when an AFL match enters junktime, that is one team can no longer win. A function J(x,y,t) where x is team A score, y is team B score and t is time remaining in the game. If anyone has worked out a reliable, accurate and consistent predictor of AFL match results using a formula like this and tested it with 10 years of match results data I’d like to know  – it has far reaching betting implications that I would like to exploit.

I am particularly interested in matches played at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne with the roof closed. The variables of wind, weather and sunlight have been eliminated therefore making match result predictions easier in my opinion.