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Maths prof swaps ‘beach’ for ‘teach’ this summer

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Maths prof swaps ‘beach’ for ‘teach’ this summer

It’s perhaps not surprising that Massey University maths genius Gaven Martin thinks more people should spend the hottest season at Summer School doing sums.

The distinguished professor has, after all, spent many past summers immersed in elliptic partial differential equations and the like to get where he is today. He is the director of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study based at the Albany campus and a sought-after lecturer and researcher at top international universities, including Yale, Berkeley, Princeton, and the Swedish Royal Academy.

While he’s scaled the heights of scholarly success himself, he is no less concerned for those at the start of their academic careers, whether in sciences, social work or statistics. That’s why he is swapping ‘beach’ for ‘teach’ as part of the University’s Summer School programme starting in November.

“Why summer school? It’s about ensuring greater success of our students in first year courses, as well as opening up opportunities to catch up on important things they couldn't – or were advised not to – do in high school,” he says.

“Mathematics is often one such subject. There is a well-known saying along the lines: ‘When you hear someone saying they don't want to do any more maths, you also hear the sound of closing doors’”, Professor Martin says. “Summer School opens doors and provides opportunities to cover off core subjects that are critical for so many disciplines and careers.”

His Methods of Maths paper is among 190 on offer at Summer School across the University’s three campuses and is relevant to students needing maths up-skilling to enter science programmes.

Summer School enables students to gain up to 60 credits by completing one to four papers, including core and special interest papers credited to undergraduate degrees from the University’s five colleges: Business, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences; Sciences; and Creative Arts. Wide-ranging topics include everything from accounting and consumer behaviour to Medieval Europe, Maori issues in education and earth science. The 10-week programmes are offered internally, extramurally, or as block courses.

While Summer School has been popular among domestic students to date, the University is hoping more international students will take up the chance to get an early start on their degrees during New Zealand’s most temperate summer months.

Professor Ingrid Day, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International) says Summer School has numerous advantages. “International students who decide to enrol in Summer School papers will also get the chance to enjoy New Zealand at its best in summer.”

It also gives them more time to get acquainted with their new country and new campus, and to make friends before the start of Semester One in February when the demands of full-time study kick in, she says.

A recent Massey Facebook survey on what students think about Summer School revealed the benefits of sacrificing barbeques for books.

“I loved it. It gave me a chance to do papers and lessen the load over the whole year…with family and my life I needed that extra opportunity to do a few papers to scatter my workload,” says one student.

Others could not get enough of summer school. Many wanted a greater range of papers at higher levels, essential to completing their degree.

Summer School is open to all domestic and international students enrolled at Massey. Students from other tertiary institutions can cross-credit papers completed at Summer School.

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