Interview conducted by Isabella Ricklow (G10) And Liana Tang (G9)
Ms. Nostran, thanks for talking to us. First of all, why did you become a teacher?
I really didn’t like working in the ‘real world’. Early in my career I did some teaching to undergraduate students but soon after that, I went to work for a big corporation which I did not enjoy - it was very boring and I don't like grown-ups. I think that teenagers and students are more interesting.
Tell us about your education.
Different. Most of my education was spent in a primary and secondary school in Italy. I then went to study and work at University in the UK. The Italian system of education and International Baccalaureate are very different but have some similarities. Teaching the Baccalaureate now is much closer to my heart than teaching GCSEs, which is what I used to teach last year.
What are you passionate about?
The environment. A sense of fairness. I hate bullies; I genuinely dislike them. And I'm Italian, so I'm passionate about pizza. Pizza is happiness.
I agree. Since you teach mathematics, I wanted to ask you what is mathematics and its purpose?
Well, it is difficult to think of it as a purpose because would you ask the same question to an English teacher, "What is the purpose of English?". We use it to communicate in the most basic [form]. As in going to the supermarket buying to buy an apple that cost 5 cents and you're buying three, that is maths. Also, maths is an international language. Two plus two equals four in every country in the world. I find it as a way to bring people closer in some way because you'll realize it's an invisible net that covers the world because you can't dispute two plus two equals four. I found it very reassuring that there's no argument about it. It's just left or right, right or wrong. It's almost democratic because you can't disagree.
How does Maths come in to your daily life?
Other than teaching… We wouldn't have laptops without maths. We wouldn't have a lot of systems and transportation. Trains would not be on time, and we wouldn't have a way to make sure trains don't collide since it's based on algorithms. It's one of the invisible qualities of maths. Behind the nitty-gritty things we learn in school that we think are boring, you then realize that without maths, you wouldn't have a lot of things that make our lives easier. Every time you take the MTR you're using maths, one way or another. Even using your octopus card, you're using maths.
When you're having a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?
I'll eat a pizza. And sometimes I'll call my Mom to show me a WhatsApp video of my dog. I left my dog with my Mom. So, yeah. But pizza mostly.
What is the best piece of advice you've received?
Never assume that you'll know better than the next person. Especially as a teacher, I noticed that sometimes we assume that we know better than the students. But I often remember that piece of advice that tells me I shouldn't assume that I know better than the students. Sometimes, I've learned to teach better from the mistakes of my students because I didn't know that I could make that mistake. And now that I know I could make a certain mistake because I've seen it before, I'll teach in a way that prevents that certain mistake. So, the best piece of advice is to never assume you know better than the next person.
That's bold advice, and I think that's pretty cool. Well that’s it, thanks again for talking with us, Ms. Nostran!