Professional Math Teacher for All
Nam Chi-yeol (Department of Mathematics, '05)
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Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) is Korea’s public broadcasting network that provides various educational materials like animations for children and lectures for students and adults alike. On EBSi, one of the internet sites of EBS, TV lectures are saved online for high school students nationwide, who are preparing for their upcoming suneung (Korean SAT). The instructors who are selected to lecture on EBSi are equipped with skills, filled with passion and fully prepared to teach the public. Nam Chi-yeol (Department of Mathematics, '05) is one of those qualified EBSi lecturers and a schoolteacher who tutors math and mathematical essay writing.
Aimless student to responsible teacher
Nam was a so-called math whiz when he was young, studying high level math problems until three to four in the morning, dreaming of becoming a math teacher. But there came a time when he lost his interest in studying. After getting a score of 0.38 in his GPA and having part-time jobs for a while, Nam became deeply concerned about his life. Worried, he thought about the time when he enjoyed math and productively navigated his life. Coming to the conclusion that he should become a math teacher, Nam studied to reach the top in his department and realized his dream after preparing for the national teaching qualification exam.
Nam enjoyed teaching and getting along with students when he was first assigned to a middle school, his various experiences in life during his wandering helping to understand his students more. Nam another life as a mathematics expert began when he started working at a high school after five years of teaching. He tried various teaching methods with his students, including a math educational volunteering club. In addition, Nam opened an Internet Math Café and posted handmade math materials to assist his students’ studies.
Then, there was an event that induced Nam to spend a year fiercely studying and thinking how he will teach mathematical essays in addition to his original subject, searching through most of math textbooks and workbooks in Korea. “Mathematical essay is typically taught through visits by instructors outside of school. I thought it was a pity that they could not take care of the students to the very end. It was because of the limitation of teaching only for a few classes,” Nam said.
What Nam wanted was to take responsibility of students until they graduated and succeeded in university admissions, so he decided to teach the subject by himself. His students proved Nam’s efforts by attaining good results in their university entrance examinations. During the process, Nam felt that he wanted to teach math at EBS. “The school I am working at is not exactly educationally developed. I wanted to help students in similar situations, or even worse, such as those who are living on islands or in farming and fishing communities,” Nam said.
The teacher who works harder than his students
After successfully passing through three highly competitive stages of becoming an EBS instructor (resume, teaching rehearsal test, and interview), he experienced difficulties working both at school and at EBS. “Each day, two hours were spent on the road, because the location of the school and EBS company building was far away. Additionally, I had to teach both math and mathematical essay lecture series, and film three or four lectures at one time,” Nam revealed.
Nam was thankful of the opportunity to teach and help more students, even though he returned home at around midnight, exhausted. Nam spends about five hours preparing his lectures by solving mathematical problems several times, researching and extracting lecture materials from various math workbooks. He has currently worked on nine lecture series and has written a workbook on mathematical essay and suneung math.
In order to allow students to find true enjoyment in math, Nam believes in understanding the core principles instead of simply memorizing formulas. Consequently, he focuses on students’ ability to logically infer and deduct, honing the capability to communicate mathematically.
Nam thinks it is important to put himself in the students’ shoes, and tries to continuously research better ways to teach, like watching other teachers’ lectures and putting teaching aids into use to spark students’ interests in math, regardless of their math comprehension skills. “Before I become old, I want to exert myself to mathematical education. After I retire, I want to volunteer math teaching to needy students,” Nam said. Firm in his conviction to teach students like his own sons and daughters, Nam's efforts live on to become Korea’s best math teacher.
Jang Soo-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Moon Ha-na
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