25 Sep Mr Eddie Woo, the mathematics teacher everyone wishes they had
Full of passion and an eagerness to share the breadth of his knowledge with anyone willing to listen, it’s no surprise that Mr Eddie Woo has accumulated nearly 20 million views on his YouTube math classes, was awarded Australia’s Local Hero of 2018 and has just released his first book.
However, Eddie didn’t always want to be a teacher, and surprisingly, mathematics was not his favourite subject at school.
“When I was younger, I wanted to become a firefighter, but I learnt later that it’s a bad idea to become one if you have chronic asthma,” Eddie laughed.
After some soul searching, Eddie began to realise his love of watching people learn, after always being one of few students in his grade to put his hand up to mentor younger students.
“I loved to open peoples’ eyes to a new world and change their self-concept of what they’re capable of, so, I realised that if I teach, I can do that every day,” he explained.
For me, what I love about teaching is that personal connection with the students and that happens in every subject.
Initially planning on becoming an English and history high school teacher, Eddie’s mind was changed the moment he met one of the professors at Sydney University, who explained to him there was a shortage of mathematics teachers in New South Wales.
Recognising this need, Eddie realised he needed to become an expert in the subject.
“Throughout university and in my early years of teaching, I really spent a lot of time learning maths for me, not learning because I had an exam,” he said.
“As I embarked on this journey, I actually discovered all kinds of things about mathematics that I had never known as a student.
I learnt about all the ways in which it was practical and interesting and surprising and beautiful, and I kept asking myself why I had never heard these things before.
In wanting to share these discoveries with more people, Eddie began writing his first book, Woo’s Wonderful World of Maths.
“I wrote the book over the course of two years, but it really was a ten year journey collecting all these ideas which are wonderful and I’d never known about,” he said.
“I thought if other people knew these things, maybe they would also see the beauty of mathematics as well.”
Open to whatever the future has in store for him next, Eddie will continue his mission in the education and mathematics spaces, both in Australia and the world.
“The need for reconceptualising and growing confidence personally in the subject of mathematics, which is so alienating and so anxiety-causing for so many people, that need isn’t just Australian, it’s global, it’s a human thing,” he said.
Eddie also hopes to see the work of teachers across the country be celebrated, hoping to use his platform to shine a light on the positive impact of education.