Searching for Better Mathematics Education
James is a mathematician with a personal passion for maths communication and the promotion of mathematics in schools and to the general public. He can be mostly found doing exactly that, either touring the world giving public talks, or on YouTube. After working in research in combinatorics and group theory, James joined the Millennium Mathematics Project from the University of Cambridge. On their behalf James ran The Enigma Project, with the aim to bring mathematics to life through the fascinating history and mathematics of codes and code breaking. Spys! Secrets! And secret messages! James travelled extensively giving public talks and visiting schools, colleges, universities, festivals and other events, and reaching 12,000 people, of all ages, every year. Touring took James all over the UK, and the world, and involved talks for Google, Microsoft, RSA conference, Maths Inspiration, Maths in Action, BrainStem (Perimeter Institute Canada), and various science festivals. James’ aim is to bring not only an in depth knowledge of mathematics to the talk, but also to present it in an accessible and fun style. After leaving the Millennium Mathematics Project in 2014 James continues to give public talks on code breaking and other topics. In 2008 James started making maths videos on YouTube on his own channel called “singingbanana” (why not). These were made to entertain a few friends, so James was thrilled to when he reached 100 subscribers, ecstatic when he reached 1000 subscribers, and now exploding from joy with over 85,000 subscribers. The videos are a series of problems, tricks, and whatever mathematical things James happens to find interesting that week. In 2011 James was contacted by video journalist Brady Haran (periodicvideos, sixtysymbols) to help create a new maths channel called Numberphile. This series uses numbers to introduce people to mathematics, including current news. Numberphile involves a team of contributors and is one of the most popular channels on YouTube, with over 1,000,000 subscribers. Through his videos, public talks and other work, James hopes to explain to kids and general audiences why he love his maths so much, to challenge some of the public’s misconceptions, and to explain why he considers it a beautiful subject in a way that is closer to an art.