Top marks for Daramalan maths teacher with national award

Michael Weaver 18 October 2019 37
Thom Mutton

Daramalan College maths teacher Thom Mutton is one of 11 teacher winners in the 2019 Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute Choose Maths Awards. Photo: Supplied.

There was always a 100 per cent chance that Thom Mutton would become a maths teacher.

And after almost four decades at the blackboard, including 31 years at Daramalan College, Mr Mutton has been recognised as one of Australia’s top maths educators.

On Friday (18 October), he was named one of 11 teachers to win the 2019 Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) Choose Maths Awards for teacher excellence.

Running since 2016, the so-called ‘Oscars of mathematics’ has invested more than $267,000 in recognition of teacher excellence. Excellence awards were also presented to teachers from QLD, SA, VIC and WA.

Judged by a panel of maths education experts, the teacher awards acknowledge educators who show leadership, creativity and innovation, while mentoring colleagues and students to strengthen outcomes in mathematics.

Mr Mutton told Region Media that maths people are happy people and it always made sense (and cents) to choose maths.

“I love teaching and I love interacting with my colleagues and I love mathematics. Choosing maths for me is easy because I just love maths. It makes me happy,” he said.

Mr Mutton’s students are Daramalan are used to their teacher’s challenges that bring a sense of fun to the classroom.

This includes solving a problem of the week and challenging students to memorise Pi up to at least 20 digits for the Pi Day recitation competition (on 3/14, of course) and to participate in a knockout competition known as Dara 7s.

“I try to make maths interesting and I want the students to be happy,” he said.

“I tell maths jokes occasionally, but they have a mixed response, so I try to tell maths stories that are interesting and are different.

“Humour is a good way for students to remember things, so hopefully they feel more relaxed about coming to class and we can get on with each other.”

Mr Mutton said the key to making maths fun is making it real.

“For kids who struggle with maths, I find that they love statistics, especially if the statistics refer to them. So you collect data about them and then number crunch it to work out the median, mode, range. They love doing that.

“You can go outside and measure stuff, but you can’t escape hard work in maths. You only learn maths by doing it, that’s the bottom line.”

He said the biggest challenge for his students are the distractions posed by social media and mobile phones.

“Kids lead very busy lives and their mobile devices take a lot of time from their day. They can be constantly in touch with their friends.

“Something that one of my students said that has stayed with me is, the first rule of study is, first put your mobile phone away, then you can study.”

On receiving the award, Mr Mutton said he is just doing a job he loves.

“I work hard but there’s plenty of others out there who work just as hard, and I would love to see them nominated for an award like this as well.

“The teachers here are fantastic operators, so if any award comes my way, it’s not really about me, it’s about the department and my maths colleagues.”

AMSI schools program manager and Choose Maths project director, Janine Sprakel, said Mr Mutton was a deserving recipient of one of the coveted Teacher Excellence Awards as a leader, mentor and maths champion, particularly for girls.

“Thom continues to transform mathematics education at Daramalan College through his passion and implementation of creative initiatives to engage students in and beyond his school,” said Ms Sprakel.

Congratulating this year’s winners, AMSI director Professor Tim Brown said the teachers lead by example.

“This year’s winning teachers are helping equip a generation with the necessary mathematics to thrive in the future where mathematical sciences increasingly underpin any thriving community. Importantly, the impacts of their innovation, excellence and passion are felt, not only in their own classrooms, but across their schools and communities,” said Professor Brown.

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37 Responses to Top marks for Daramalan maths teacher with national award
Luke Zorzi Luke Zorzi 8:32 am 26 Oct 19

Mac Mclean he's no Mrs Kumar

Eleni Dimanoski Eleni Dimanoski 3:14 pm 24 Oct 19

Dimitri Karagiannidis shocked that O’Connell isn’t up there as one of the best

    Dimitri Karagiannidis Dimitri Karagiannidis 4:28 pm 24 Oct 19

    Eleni Dimanoski Mmm you should write a letter

    Eleni Dimanoski Eleni Dimanoski 9:10 pm 24 Oct 19

    Dimitri need to find my fluffy pencil case first

Jess Barnes Jess Barnes 7:01 am 23 Oct 19

Emili Maricic what a legend

Richie Suryadi Richie Suryadi 9:01 am 22 Oct 19

Great teacher! Well done mate

Bel Le Bel Le 8:48 am 22 Oct 19

Not just a great teacher, but a lovely man in general!

Bambi Valentine Bambi Valentine 9:17 pm 21 Oct 19


Elizabeth Cox Elizabeth Cox 7:57 pm 21 Oct 19

He taught Alex...

    Amanda Tam Amanda Tam 12:39 pm 22 Oct 19

    Elizabeth Cox Very lucky to have a good maths teacher as there are not many who can teach out there .

Taisha Granger Taisha Granger 5:10 pm 21 Oct 19

Thom Mutton is a great teacher, well deserved award 🙌🏻❤️

Beautown Heath Beautown Heath 4:12 pm 21 Oct 19

Awesome definitely concur with above comments 👏

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 2:41 pm 21 Oct 19

Rod Diehl, how did you get over looked?

    Rod Diehl Rod Diehl 5:13 pm 21 Oct 19

    Peter McDonald

    One needs to be a specialist with many years experience in order to get recognition. I only teach Maths sometimes. I'm more likely to teach Physics, Science, Digital Technology, Computing ... using Maths as a tool rather than as an art forms.

Ivy Mai Ivy Mai 12:01 pm 21 Oct 19

Vicky Aouad mathletes forever 🏃🏻‍♀️👌🏻

Andrew Wadey Andrew Wadey 10:58 am 21 Oct 19

Well deserved. Congratulations.

Rebecca Shaw Rebecca Shaw 10:40 am 21 Oct 19

Congratulations Mr Mutton

Bianca Tee Bianca Tee 10:36 am 21 Oct 19

Jacinta Searles Natalie Zee Joey Croke brings back memories!!!

    Joey Croke Joey Croke 10:38 am 21 Oct 19

    Bianca Tee Oh wow! That's great. I still can't count to 10...

    Jacinta Searles Jacinta Searles 11:33 am 21 Oct 19

    So many memories ☺️👍

    Natalie Zee Natalie Zee 7:07 am 22 Oct 19

    Omg wow! Go Mr Mutton! He actually made me try be good at math lol

Chelsea Maher Chelsea Maher 7:34 am 21 Oct 19

Lilli Thomas best teacher i’ve ever had

Pheliciti Raeside Pheliciti Raeside 6:41 am 21 Oct 19

Congratulations. Mr Mutton was always willing to give of his free time when i needed some extra help solving a maths problem.😊

Turnball Yarry Turnball Yarry 11:41 pm 20 Oct 19

Max Turnbull Michael Turnbull teach any of you two?

Joey Mickleburgh Joey Mickleburgh 9:05 pm 20 Oct 19

Christiana David Cecilia surely Ed is in line for some recognition too

Melissa Bingley Melissa Bingley 8:39 pm 20 Oct 19

Such a lovely teacher 😃

Aidan Higginson Aidan Higginson 8:22 pm 20 Oct 19

Don't tell Mutton Michie

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