The Teacher’s Pet

Sponsored by Westpac, who is proud to offer Mathspace Essentials free to all Australians

Mrs. Prescott had had enough.

“Please do not use red pen to do your exam.”

“Please go and report in for a detention at lunch.”


Mrs. Prescott had the unenviable task of trying to teach me mathematics in High School. Mrs. Prescott was your typical High School Maths teacher who, try as she did, could not convince me that maths lessons were necessary for me to achieve my dreams of being a professional karaoke singer.

I would quite often question her “When are we ever going to use this in real life?” and she would always come back with a large list of professions that would require this skill.

She was short and sharp, almost birdlike in her neatness. She was stern, but would occasionally show us that she had a good sense of humour.


One day, she strode into the classroom and wrote one word onto the chalkboard.


I am not sure why, but I decided that I was going to be the trigonometry QUEEN of Veggie Maths. I was going to show Mrs. Prescott that I was capable of understanding at least one mathematical concept. Trigonometry involves the measurement of angles and something to do with triangles. It has been around since 3rd Century BC and all the old astrologers used it so of COURSE it was going to be helpful to me.

I applied myself during TRIG and ended up acing the subject much to everyone’s surprise. It is amazing what can happen when you listen! Of course I cannot remember much about it now, but sin, cos and tan will always be a part of my vocabulary, along with adjacent, opposite and how can we forget hypotenuse!

Of course I was curious about what Mrs. Prescott was doing now? With thanks to the Google Gods, I found that she is now an Associate Professor at a Sydney University and had recently been awarded a Human Rights Award for Social Inclusion for the work she has done in Nepal in making sure teenaged girls were able to continue their education into secondary school.

I kind of feel like a bit of an idiot now. Mrs. Prescott, you go girl (finger snap).

Recently Australia received its own report card and the findings were, well they were not great. According to research done by UNICEF, out of 41 high and middle income countries, we rated 39th when it came to receiving a quality education. We only beat Romania and Turkey. This data was collected on the results of fifteen year olds in maths, science and reading. For those interested, number one was Finland, number two was Malta and number three was The Republic of Korea.

What is even more concerning is that recent studies show that the number of kids doing no maths in year 12 had tripled in the past decade. Yet it is estimated that 75% of the fastest growing industries require a background in maths for NSW.

What I am trying to say is that we need to shine the spotlight on maths (and science while I am at it).

“Oh I am so bad at maths. I don’t understand it at all….” I can hear you from here. Let’s change the attitude ok?

Westpac has joined forces with Mathspace to make their interactive maths program free for all Australians. This can help to support our kid’s involvement in maths. It is an interactive online tool for Year 3 through to Year 12, which is highly engaging.

It takes all of thirty seconds to sign up for it. You choose your country, then your State (as it is tailored to each states curriculum) and then your year level. There are thousands of video lessons, and a friendly sounding Aussie Teacher talks you through the theory and then guides you through the practice. As an ex-primary schoolteacher, I was very impressed by how clear the instructions were. (I went through and did an entire unit of Stage 3 Algebra.)

It is like having a tutor sitting with you. AND IT IS FREE!

To check it out Mathspace Essentials, please click here. And if you have some friends who might be interested in it, please feel to share. I really, really dig it.

Did you have a favourite teacher?

  • Heidi D

    I was a serious teachers pet in primary school. I remember a few teachers I really liked. My year 5 yeacher was lovely. When she came to visit our class to show us her new baby while on maternity leave she only chose 1 boy & 1 girl to get a cuddle of the baby so the poor little sprout didn’t have to be passed around a room full of grubby kids. I was very proud to sit at the front of the class getting a baby cuddle.
    Maths was not one of my best subjects in highschool. I was ok with the basics but when they introduced the alphabet into it then it was all over

    • Your teacher sounds lovely! Yes, agree with you about the alphabet xx

  • Kids are so consumed with technology now I can’t believe that online tutoring won’t help. It has to. Sounds like a great interactive program. P.S. Photo is adorable and you haven’t changed at all 🙂

  • whicocan

    STEM(science tech engineering and math is finally getting acknowledged for women here in the US. 6.9% graduate with a degree in a STEM field.
    Khan Academy is a free online source for lesson, practice and help. It is great with tons of different subjects. Started in maths. just an american accent tho not a lovely Aussie one.
    My favorite was Mr. Bell who helped me graduate from college by NOT making me give speeches in his class. My last semester of college, 4th time taking Speech 1, only time I didn’t drop the course and all because he talked to me and asked why. I cannot believe that I was going to drop again and not graduate but I just could not get up and give a speech. Took me 14 more years before I could speak in front of a group. He was a lovely man who died much too young. I think of him often with fondness much gratitude. He changed my life.

    • Isn’t it amazing the impact that teachers can have on our lives?

  • I am married to a K-6 teacher who went on to teach & coach HS Maths. He thinks Maths is cool. I know my timetable as it was drilled into me in my 1960s primary education. However. HS Maths was a whole new world for me I did not like. I actually became a K-2 teacher because 1. I would be taller than the kids 2. I knew the Maths was managable for me to teach up to end of Yr2. My favourite teacher was probably the Year 5 teacher who I admired because he ended up being my inspiration to become a teacher.

    • That is lovely Mrs W, and you have given so much to Education xx