Q&A with Dr. Gabriel Matney
Gabriel Matney, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Mathematics Education, School of Teaching and Learning
University of Oklahoma - I received my Ph.D. in 2004
Years at BGSU: Five
Authenticity of Mathematics Learning; Lesson Study that incorporates Open Approach; Mathematics Fluency and Proficiency (SMPs’); Mathematics Teacher Professional Development; International Cultures and their Mathematics Learning and Teaching
Mathematics Fun Fact:
Did you know that there is a fine line between a numerator and denominator, and it's called a vinculum?
Q&A with Dr. Matney
What is your favorite part about teaching?
Definitely getting to interact and learn about my students. In my experiences, BGSU students work so hard to learn and contribute to both the university and greater community. Lots of people have been inspired by a teacher they had. I’m a teacher who has always been inspired my students.
What advice would you give to students heading out into the real world?
Wait what? College isn’t the real world? What kind of world have I been living in then?
How did you get started in your field?
I enjoy creating things. When I was younger I helped my father and grandfather build barns, new homes, repair businesses, fix up old farm houses and also do landscaping. I loved wood shop in school and even made the first set of end tables my wife and I ever owned out of some wood given to me by an older friend. In fact, we still have those end tables and use them in our home here in BG. I’m drawn to teaching because it’s very much an act of creation for me. I seek to create a space with my students in which their authentic ways of seeing and interacting with mathematics are illuminated, shared and remembered.
What is your greatest academic achievement so far?
My greatest academic achievement would be being nominated by my students, in both the public schools and then again at the university for the honor of teacher of the year.
You developed something called Math Camp that is extremely popular with grade level children. What is it and why is it so popular with the kids?
Math Camp is the result of years of research and development with our colleagues in Thailand, mainly Dr. Yupadee Panarach. For over a decade, Dr. Panarach and her preservice teachers worked on making a mathematics camp that encouraged children to learn mathematics in enjoyable ways and improve their problem solving. In 2011, I began working on research about math camps in Thailand and eventually I was able to take a group of BGSU preservice teachers to look at what I was researching. These BGSU preservice teachers and I brought math camp from Thailand to Ohio in 2014. It’s really amazing to see how much math camp has grown in only two years. We are already at the point where we have more schools asking us to come do a math camp than we have BGSU students to actually run the camps.
You’ve traveled all over the world to set up learning courses for preservice teachers. Why do you feel this is such an important part of the educational experience?
Indeed I have set up courses for students to travel to Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Crete, Italy, Thailand, China, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. As a teacher, I seek to give our BGSU students opportunities to have a transformative and authentic learning experience. Learning about your own country’s education system can be a daunting experience in and of itself, but something new is drawn out for the students when they begin to contemplate other peoples, their cultures and how their education system and culture interact. Through these learning experiences students find themselves having an assortment of "ah-ha" moments. They are learning about becoming better teachers, getting ideas about new classroom tasks and methods, they are developing understandings about why others might do things differently, and equally important, it occurs to them (often for the first time) why we do the things we do.
When you travel do you ever take adventures when you go to a new country or region?
I'm a self-professed adrenaline junkie and I'm fortunate to not have sustained any major injuries. I've skydived in different countries, jumped off the Skytower in Auckland and other silly things like that. Since I still have my health, I'm going to keep on doing it!
Why did you decide to come to BGSU and teach in EDHD?
I was an associate professor at another university where I conducted teacher training sessions around the country. I would often ask teachers where they graduated from and the graduates from BGSU always impressed me and were some of the most professional teachers I had meet. That is how I first learned about the College of Education and Human Development and the fact they had a great teacher education program. As a graduate student, I would attend conference presentations and Dr. Daniel Brahier, math program coordinator, was someone that I admired. His sessions were always interesting to me and his focus on helping preservice teachers become professionals was something that I also aspired to do. In 2011, a position at BGSU opened. I talked with my wife and we decided that I should apply. And here I am!
What was the best piece of advice you received as a student?
Do not act as though you care about others. Actually care about others.