Mathematics is a challenging subject for most learners and most educators have found it difficult to teach and pass the knowledge in classrooms. This has led to other educators finding creative and innovative approach to teach Maths.

Thabiso Mathipa is one of the teachers who has decided to use creativity to teach Maths, his classes are filled with Maths songs that would give you goosebumps as he leads the entire class into songs filled with Maths formulas.

Recently Thabiso was honoured by the Minister of Basic Education, Mam Angie Motshekga at the National Teachers Awards as the Top Maths teacher in the country.

This energy filled Florapark Comprehensive High School educator sat down to have a chat with us.

Background

Mathematics

Thabiso Mathipa was born at Tshware, Ga-Mamabolo back in 1992. I grew up there until I went to stay at my dad’s place in Masealama village, still in Ga-Mamabolo in 1998. I completed my pre-school there and then in 1999, I moved to Nobody Thakgalang to stay with my parents. I attended Thomo Primary School at Nobody village from 1999 to 2005 and I was always number 1 in position in all my grades. Then in 2006, I moved to Mountainview Senior Secondary School in Toronto until I matriculated with flying colours in 2010. I have always loved education and trying new things and learning more about what is around me.

What makes Mathematics difficult?

Mathematics is generally an attitude subject, one needs to be focused and love the subject in order to triumph over it. In all honesty, however, the subject is not for everyone. This is the truth which some parents find unpalatable, not everyone is wired to comprehend the learning contents of Mathematics. Failing generally demoralizes, so if a learner in a Maths class keeps on failing continuously, they end up losing all the focus and deeming themselves as useless.

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What inspired you to come up with this teaching approach?

I am generally flexible, artistic and innovative. I once saw a video of Dr. KW Sibiya from KZN who was teaching his learners using a song and I was very much intrigued and from that day onwards, I adopted the singing of Mathematics content which is really working for me. I also use role playing or drama to teach some concepts.

How do learners respond to this innovative teaching?

Hahahahaha, so humbling to hear that, sometimes you never really know if people are watching you. My learners love my classes more than anything. Whether my class is the first one in the morning or the last one in the day, they are forever excited to attend because of the energy they get in my class. I love the way they respond to my energy because, it is even evident in how they respond to questions in their exams.

What does this recognition by the Department of Basic Education means to you?

Mathematics

Yhoooo, this recognition means a lot to me. I mean having been honoured by the Minister Angie Motshekga herself on such a massive education occasion, is something that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I am glad that I have made a name for myself and that I have made a name also for my school, which is greater. I have witnessed my school growing right under my nose because of the positive publicity that I have attracted for the school.

Talk to us about your other activities outside of the classroom….

I am a socialite who is also involved in mentorship programs. I am part of an organisation called Young Pioneers, where I am mentoring aspiring and practicing educators. I am a deputy director of the Teasterl projects, an organisation that is promoting shoestring teaching, ICT integration and career guidance in schools. I am a Christian, I lead youth structures at and I am also a unionist, hahahhah……

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Why is it important that more learners excel in Mathematics?

Young people should excel in Mathematics because they will be able to unlock more complex situations in real life and even assist those who were never in a Maths class. We need more learners who love and understand Maths, who are also able to apply and implement it in real-life situations. We however can’t have more young people who know Mathematics if we do not have good Maths teachers in our schools.

How do learners best prepare for the upcoming final exams?

Mathematics

On examinations, I would like to advice the learners to keep busy, they must not wait for the last minute to prepare for the exams. Prior proper planning prevents poor performance. The syllabi are huge and it needs a person to take one bite at a time for thorough understanding. the learners should also use their pre-lim exam scripts to guide them in terms of their areas of weakness and strength so that their preparation would be relevant.

Where to from here for Thabiso?

I am seeing a bright future for myself, I believe that I am a hard worker and it is time that it pays off. I am trusting God for many open gates and I am positive about it.

Your parting words?

When you are given a space to impact a life, do it to the best of your ability, never leave any stone unturned. Aspire to inspire before you expire, time is of the essence.

By The Editor

Dumi Mbona is a founder of TMS Mag, an Author. Worked as a schools' youth Life Coach and KZN Youth Parliament Facilitator under the KZN Office of the Premier the Office on the Right of the Child.