Malindi Interviews her Maths Teacher

Springbank School student Malindi Reihana-Ruka interviewed her Year 12 Maths Teacher, Mrs Binedell.


Mrs Binedell, why did you choose to become a teacher?

Like most students, Mrs Binedell did not know what she wanted to do after she left school,  “as in the ‘older’ days, there weren’t many job opportunities for females, so the most I could do was to be a teacher or a nurse.  So, I decided to teach.  I went to college and was going to major in physical education, but …. I hated it.  So, before I ‘dropped out’ I had to have an aptitude test and lo and behold it said that I should be a teacher, journalist or a nurse. Hence carrying on with the teaching pathway.”


Why did you choose to teach maths?

“Before I went back to college, I went to some career advisors which told me that I was bored with training in PE.  So, I went back to college and studied art and Sotho (one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, and the national language of Lesotho) with a side of maths for the extra challenge.  After college I started teaching art and was seconded to teach maths as there was a great shortage of maths teachers.  So basically, I fell into it, which worked well for me as I always enjoyed the hard challenge, and had a passion for the subject, so it was an easy path to follow.  After that, things just fell into place.”


What do you love about teaching maths and what do you love about maths itself?

“I enjoy the challenge of teaching maths and trying to explain something that may be a little difficult, and what I really like about maths is that for some people they think it’s hard, but once they ‘get it’ you can see the light come on, and it’s very rewarding.

I also see maths everywhere.  When I look at clouds, I can see a curve, which is a mathematical model.  And statistics is everywhere.  We are washed in it.  Almost everything is related to statistics in some way or form, which we must critically analyze.  Stats helps you become less gullible as you can realise that people are sometimes trying to pull the wool over your eyes.  With a background of stats, you are well informed to question where, when, and how the data was collected, so you can make an informed decision.”


What is the most challenging thing about teaching maths?

“The most challenging thing about teaching maths, is that, once someone convinces themselves they cannot ‘do it’, and they repeat this over and over.  It is very hard to get them out of that negative mindset.  Even though you know they can, and you believe in them, and you give them as much support and help as they need.  It is now up to the student to want to change.”


Why did you choose to work at Springbank?

When I first started looking at schools in the Northland area the one school that stood out, and the one I kept coming back to was Springbank.  I already had a good gut feeling about it, and when I arrived, the overwhelming family feel and positivity that abounds from the school, confirmed my underlying gut feeling.  I knew this is where I wanted to be.


How is Springbank different from all the other schools you have worked at?

“The school is situated in a rural area and has a large amount of land.  This means that instead of looking at buildings, the view from the classrooms is trees and fields, which is very pleasant.  It is a much smaller school than I am used to so everybody knows everybody by name and people always greet each other in a friendly manner – which again, is like a large family.  This is also the first school that I have taught at where students don’t wear a uniform so we can see students’ personalities shining through in their clothing, and I think that students are more comfortable not wearing a uniform.”

Why Malindi choose to interview Mrs Binedell

“It is because she is one of the loveliest, carrying and most down to earth people I know.  She is always there to offer a helping hand, and not only for maths but for any problem you have. She has helped me in so many other areas of my life, that I think has nothing to do with maths (she would probably say otherwise).  She is also so humble and works so hard to get everything you can possibly imagine for her students!  She has the most organized and interactive lessons that it’s hard to get distracted, and I know it sounds hard to believe but I don’t think I have ever not wanted to go to a maths lesson.  Mrs Binedell also takes the time to get to know her students, she even includes them in original maths examples, which makes it surprisingly helpful to remember.


She always encourages and supports you to do your best.  Which is sometimes hard, as at times I do find maths very hard!!  But I love the feeling of being so frustrated and disappointed with yourself, then suddenly something ‘clicks’, and it all makes sense.  It makes me feel like I can do anything!  But then you turn the page to the next question, and the cycle repeats itself.  Even though this happens on a daily basis with probably every question I do, it just makes it even more exciting.”

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