I feel that, while it’s important to teach a syllabus and ensure good exam results, the real value of learning mathematics and science is in learning how to think independently and solve problems. In teaching maths and science I emphasise the thinking process in solving problems and answering questions, rather than rote learning for exams. This focus has been quite successful, and helps students to maintain and even regain composure in exams; those who rote learn for mathematics may panic when given a curve ball in an exam and forget everything they’ve learned, students who learn how to think can dig themselves out of any hole.
Importantly, I’ve found that very few students are inherently bad at mathematics or science. Students often lack confidence or become frightened when faced with questions that seem hard or unintelligible from the outset. I’ve found that with just a small bit of encouragement and teaching, students can make considerable progress very quickly.
Computing and coding are integral to modern mathematics and physics. Throughout undergraduate and postgraduate I’ve studied several coding languages including C, C++, MATLAB and R for mathematical analysis and computational physics, and have used them in my published research and also in industrial projects. In teaching coding I find that project-based learning is by far the best approach.
2016 University of Oxford, Clarendon Scholar, PhD in Environmental Research
2013-2014 University of Manchester MSc Applied Mathematics – Industrial maths, math modelling, computational science (C++, MATLAB)
2010-2013 University College Cork BSc Physics – experimental physics, theoretical physics, computational physics (C, C++, MATLAB).
2006-2008 Nagle Rice Secondary School, Cork, Ireland, Irish Leaving Certificate (equivalent to A levels or IB): Mathematics (A) English (A) Physics (A) Chemistry (A) Applied Mathematics (A) Technical Drawing (A) Irish (A) French (B), 600/600 points, putting me in the top 0.3% of students in Ireland that year.
2003-2006 Nagle Rice Secondary School, Cork, Ireland, Irish Junior Certificate exam (equivalent to GCSE): Mathematics (A) English (A) Science (A) Business Studies (A) History (A) Geography (A) Technical Drawing (A) Civics (A) Irish (B) French (B).
Mathematics for Irish Leaving Certificate (Equivalent to A-level and IB) – I’ve tutored mathematics since 2008 helping students who are often struggling to pass this mandatory exam in the Irish education system to improve their grades. In Ireland a poor maths grade can spell disaster for a student’s university application. Most of my students have improved from D or E grades to B or C grades.
Physics for Irish Leaving Certificate (Equivalent to A-level and IB) – In the last two years I’ve tutored several students in physics, mostly focussing on exam technique, and explaining complex ideas more clearly than teachers often can in large classes. I’ve helped several students, such as Konrad from Cork, to maximise their grades (going from a D to an A) by focussing on clear answers to questions and by giving them confidence in what they know.
Undergraduate mathematics – Since 2010 I’ve tutored science students (mostly biochemical, environmental and food science students) in first year undergraduate mathematics. These mathematics courses have high failure rates in Ireland. I have helped several students who struggled with the workload, having little background in maths, to pass their exams.
Undergraduate physics – From 2010 to 2012 I tutored as part of University College Cork’s physics tutoring scheme, a voluntary tutoring initiative where physics students tutored biochemical and environmental science students in physics in order to alleviate the massive failure rates in these courses. As a result, failure rates fell considerably. I have also tutored privately in physics since then, teaching students from several Irish universities who struggled to pass physics courses in which they had no background.
A-Level Physics – I have tutored students for both the AS and A2 Physics exams, and am familiar with a range of exam boards. Most recently I have tutored for the AQA and Edexcel boards.
Summer 2010 – Teaching assistant at the Irish Centre for Talented Youth, providing academic courses for gifted children. I worked on the engineering summer course, supervising study periods and assisted in classes, where I tutored in the fundamentals and applications of engineering.
Hobbies and Interests
I’m an Irish musician, gigging around the UK and Ireland. Most recently I provided the soundtrack for an Irish language documentary on the 1916 Easter rising in Ireland.
I spend a lot of time hiking and whitewater kayaking, competing in and organising competitions. I’ve also worked as a kayaking instructor in Ireland, the UK and the US. Athletics and sport are quite important to me. I trained in Tae Kwon Do during secondary school, and took up running in university. I’ve run marathons, half marathons and 10k’s and love going to Parkrun.
I’m also big into science media. For the last few months in Ireland I produced and hosted a science and technology radio program on UCC’s student radio. “Black Holes and Revelations” airs 3-4pm, Mondays on http://www.ucc.ie/en/983fm/.
I’m an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction, literature and science, and rarely leave the house without my Kindle. The extra reading time is the silver lining around all of my tube journeys.
Whenever back in Ireland, I’m heavily involved in the family farm, a large beef and dairy enterprise of several hundred acres in the lush south of Ireland, and spent the first quarter of this year calving cows.
“After I got a bad mark in my mock maths exam, I went to Michael for a few months of classes. He cleared up a lot of things I didn’t understand and I aced the final exam.” – Sam, Cork, Ireland, Irish Leaving Certificate mathematics exam.