The Budding Writer who Embarked on a Journey into Sensuous Mathematics
An interview with Amalie Thorup Eich-Høy, who is a Ph.D. student at the Research Center for Science Education and Communication at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, SDU.
What is your Ph.D. project about?
In my PhD project, I delve into the teaching of mathematics with a focus on linear algebra, and into how the teaching of that very subject takes place here at IMADA.
I am particularly fascinated by exploring how mathematics can transcend the traditional perception of the subject as something abstract and separate from our body and surroundings.
Perhaps mathematics can be observed and understood through our body language, gestures, interaction with materials and the spatial context?
Perhaps mathematics does not only exist as intellectual knowledge; we are human beings who are part of the world, and our learning and thinking is connected to our physical experience.
My wish is that my discoveries may eventually contribute to the development of a new approach to math didactics that includes the bodily and spatial dimension. By acknowledging these aspects, I believe we can create an even more engaging and effective learning experience.
Why do you want to write a Ph.D?
I really love to immerse myself and learn new things. It’s an amazing feeling to discover something I didn’t know beforehand. In addition, I love to write and actually have Danish as my Major, whereas mathematics was my minor subject.
So it is also meaningful for me to bring humans into mathematics. The research path is the path where I can combine my two professional interests in a meaningful way.
I think it is important that some of the absolutely central science subjects such as mathematics, which are the basis for a great deal of the technological development we see now, become more accessible and easier to deal with for a wider target group.
What did you do before?
I am originally trained as a make-up artist. However, I realised that if I made it my full-time job, I would lose my hobby. That’s why I decided to move towards becoming a secondary school teacher.
During my studies, I had a course in didactics, where Connie Svabo was the teacher. Subsequently, she invited me to a research project where I had to film a 9th grade have classes in Danish, mathematics and social studies. It was really exciting for me, as it was the first time I was out on my own observing a classroom like that.
Being part of a research project was really a great experience. Later I became a student assistant at FNUG, and then the announcement came, which I absolutely had to apply for.
In reality, studying a Ph.D. is a task where I draw on all my past experiences - including my background as a make-up artist and my love for art.
What did you dream of becoming when you were a child?
Many things! But when I was in 2nd grade, I wanted to be a writer. I was the kind of person who read during breaks and when I was at family birthday parties. And after I was put to bed, I would always have a book under my pillow. I think I read the Golden Compass series 11 times as a child and wrote drafts of five different fantasy novels during my primary school years. When I got a little older, the thought came to me that I should be a teacher.
How do you think your Ph.D. project can have an impact on our society?
I think it is important that some of the absolutely central science subjects such as mathematics, which are the basis for a great deal of the technological development we see now, become more accessible and easier to deal with for a wider target group. So that the people who represent mathematics also represent the whole society for which they have to develop solutions. And precisely here, I think the way mathematics is taught right now often depends on the fact that you, as a student, are naturally comfortable with an approach that is characterised by standing with the chalk in your hand and your nose right up to the blackboard in deep concentration. And nothing bad to say about chalkboards – I love them myself! But I just think we also need the people who perhaps understand to a greater degree the room in which the blackboard hangs – and how movements, words and human relationships can also be tools for shaping innovative mathematical solutions.
This is what I hope my Ph.D. project can help investigate and create a basis for.
Meet the researcher
Amalie Thorup Eich-Høy is PhD student at the Centre for Research in Science Education and Communication.
Meet the researcher
Connie Svabo is a professor and director of Centre for Research in Science Education and Communication, where researchers in education and media work with mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists and other scientists to create inspiring educations.