If you had asked me a few weeks ago who Hans Woyda is/was, I’d have had no idea. He sounds vaguely scientific … a Nobel Prize winner perhaps? Or is there a theatrical echo (Woyzeck?) … sport perhaps (a tennis player?).
The answer is that he was a brilliant and long-serving Head of Maths at Kingston Grammar School, and it’s the name of a Maths competition for which top schools compete, and in which our team just before half term beat St Paul’s to get to the Southern Final. Well done to them, and to the teachers who put them forward. Over the past few days I’ve heard snatches of chat about some of the questions, also great.
This is not, let’s be honest, my comfort zone. I like to think I have a decent logical mind, and I did do Additional Maths (O level, I’m that old), but sometimes, conceptually, I run up against a brick wall. For example, I cannot get my head round the puzzle which was thrown at me recently, as to why the probability of choosing the one ‘right’ door out of three increases if after the first pick you are told which of the two others is wrong. It’s here, and if anyone can explain it to me better, I’m all ears.
But this too is good. Education is not meant to be easy, and it’s not meant to be comforting. It’s not meant to be just a reaffirming of what we already thought, nor a falling into line with what Chris Woodhead called the ‘tyranny of the majority’. Hence the vital importance to us of debating, discussion groups, and even lively conversation. These might seem grand words for February, but no time is not a good time to be thinking about what we’re here for.