In this monthly column, we speak with a notable member of the mathematics education community about their work and their perspectives on the teaching and learning of mathematics. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Harley Weston.
Harley was born and raised in Southern Ontario and went to high school in Caledonia, where a Grade 10 teacher taught him geometry using Euclid as the text. This is where he was first introduced to the beauty and lure of mathematics. He received an undergraduate degree from McMaster University and a Masters and PhD from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1967, Harley and his wife Marianne moved to Regina, where they lived for almost 50 years. He taught in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics until his retirement in 2005. His research was in Point Set Topology for a few years, after which his interests turned to Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Modelling. Starting in about 1995, his academic interests changed again, this time to Mathematics Education. In 1992, he was awarded the University of Regina Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Undergraduate teaching, in 2007 the annual Education Prize from the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, and in 2008 the Adrien Pouliot Award from the Canadian Mathematical Society.
Harley and Marianne have two sons, three granddaughters, and two great granddaughters. They now live in the hamlet of Pasqua Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley.
Thank you for taking the time to have this conversation, Dr. Weston. I would like to start by asking you about your interest in mathematics education. Your background is in applied mathematics, and this was the focus of your research at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Regina from 1967 until 2005. However, you have also spent much time cultivating relationships between mathematicians, K-12 students, mathematics teachers, and Education faculty. In your view, why is it important to establish dialogue between these groups?
Thank you for inviting me to be part of this endeavour.
“I have always been passionate about the beauty and elegance of mathematics and have used my teaching as an attempt to transmit my love of mathematics and to help others glimpse the beauty that I see.”
When I arrived in Regina in 1967, my academic interest was in pure mathematics, and it wasn’t until about 1980 that I became interested in applied mathematics. I have always been passionate about the beauty and elegance of mathematics and have used my teaching as an attempt to transmit my love of mathematics and to help others glimpse the beauty that I see. At times, however, I have been frustrated by the fact that many people don’t share this view of mathematics or even appreciate how anyone could have this view. I think that part of the reason that so many people have a negative view of mathematics is due to the way that it is taught, and I felt that I had much to learn about mathematics teaching from my colleagues in mathematics education. Fortunately, at the University of Regina there was already a close working relationship between some of my colleagues in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and faculty in the Faculty of Education, so it was relatively easy for me to build on this. Continue reading