Bob Monahan

Senior Innovation Designer

Nike, Inc.

I grew up in Australia and although the education system is different it’s clear that the importance of strong math in children is universal.

Was there a math teacher, project or lesson that made a big impact on you while in school? What got you interested in math?

I remember always having math homework as a child, different workbooks and exercises. I also remember my mother challenging me with real daily math problems. I had an hour or so of revision work to do once a week during the school holidays, making math a part of daily life was invaluable.

What did you enjoy most about math while in school?

As a competitive child, I wanted to do well at math assignments.

Describe some of the ways in which you use math to do your job. Which math skills are most important to your job? Please give examples.

As a designer of innovative products I interact with complex and highly varied data on a daily basis, having a broad base knowledge of math has helped me read, comprehend and gain insights from the math at hand. I still ask many questions and learn math concepts on an ongoing basis.

What could teachers have done to make math more enjoyable/useful for you while in school?

Revision work that makes the student feel successful, balance new concepts with revision. Setup a system where success breeds confidence to learn.

If you had the power, how would you change the way math is taught at school?

Make sure math is taught in physical, relevant and tangible ways. Physical tools are great for some, visual for others, audible for others.

Anything else that you would like to share.

I was not naturally talented at math; it took real effort and time from my teachers and especially my parents. I was put in a position where it was clear that math would be an essential life tool, learning the value of this at an early age is paramount.