Math Teacher Challenges

Hi, I’m high school math teacher Vo Nguyen. In a series of Q&A video blogs, I’d like to share my journey with you about how and why I got involved with The Actuarial Foundation’s Modeling the Future Challenge. Here are the links to the first three parts of the series if you missed them:

Part 1: The Road From Underwriter to Teacher

Part 2: Understanding Math at a Deeper Level

Part 3: Pursue Your Dreams

What is the biggest challenge facing math educators today, and how do you think this plays a role in building a diverse and talented pipeline of actuarial candidates for companies?

The biggest challenge math teachers face today is the practical element of math for the students. Most of my students do not see the importance of learning math or learning to apply math in the real world. They do not know that everything we use today is all based on mathematical principles. Additionally, math has been notoriously despised as a school subject by students in my district, so it is hard to build actuarial candidates because they think math is boring.

What do you think is the answer for bridging the gap in math education for students in underserved communities (Title I Schools) and their ability to be successful math professionals and actuaries?

In my personal experience, the answer for bridging the gap in math education is the quality of education and how well teachers are trained to supplement, engage and connect real-world applications for students. The teachers play a key role in influencing students to pursue a higher math growth mindset, and it is quite hard when math is not highly regarded. We need more actuaries and successful professionals to become teachers.