Beacon of the day | Richard James On A Mission To ‘Revolutionize’ MathematicsSeptember 27, 2021
Too many people are scared of Maths.
That is why Richard James is on a mission to ‘revolutionize’ it, making it more attractive for more people.
To help do that, he already wrote a whopping 22 mathematics resource books and booklets, and has guided generations of students to success in his capacity as an educator.
His appreciation for mathematics started in the home, he indicated, adding that his parents ensured that their children developed an early interest in the subject.
“I was not only specially gifted, but the way was paved for me to be a very good mathematician,” James told The Beacon. “My father only had primary school education, but he was adamant that we had to get the highest level of education possible.”
James noted that, in the 1980s when he was a student, he benefited significantly from his alma mater – Glendevon Primary School – having two specialist mathematics teachers.
His penchant for the subject multiplied when he reached Cornwall College.
“In those days, Cornwall College was very famous for winning the national mathematics competition,” James recalled. He, along with his teammates, won it for four consecutive years.
As destiny would have it, James, years after leaving Cornwall College as a student, returned there as a teacher and coached the school to victory in the said mathematics competition.
He also taught the subject at a number of other institutions – St James High School, Herbert Morrison Technical High, Montego Bay Community College, Brown’s Town Community College, Sam Sharpe Teachers College, as well as the University College of the Caribbean – now called University of the Commonwealth Caribbean.
James’ stints at those institutions were relatively short, but, according to him, he was able to leave a streak of excellence in his wake – as reflected in the performance of his students.
“I always have to leave [the institutions] because what I really want for myself and for the people, I cannot do it [there]. I don’t teach in an institution [since 2015] because they have too many policies, bureaucracy, red tape and corruption,” he claimed.
The holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of the West Indies, James eventually buckled down as a private tutor and entrepreneur.
His clients, he said, are mainly students who have a difficulty learning at their schools, and people who finished school but didn’t meet the requirements to pursue higher education.
James explained that more than half the number of people he tutors are usually referred to him by their relatives whom he taught mathematics.
“They pass it down from generation to generation that you must go to Richard James for mathematics. That is one of the things that keep me going,” he said. “Working privately has been an overwhelming success.”
James is intrinsically motivated to reach especially young people who, now more than ever, are being distracted, especially by technological devices.
It is the main reason he wrote the 22 mathematics resource books and booklets. His work is also available in the audio visual format – some of which can be located on his YouTube channel by CLICKING HERE.
“The students need mathematics resource,” James asserted. “I have something to address every single one of the students’ specific need.”
He postulated that his mathematics resource publications are different from regular textbooks.
“I was told to write textbooks because we don’t have good textbooks. But what we don’t have is good instructional books. It’s not a matter of text; it is a matter of good instruction,” James argued. “My idea of a resource book is diametrically opposite to a textbook.”
He further stated that “a lot of people are supporting” his books and booklets – the first of which was published in 1997.
“We have the resources going all over the world at the moment – even if we don’t have it going in the great numbers that we wanted, but we are getting somewhere,” James said.
His intention, he explained, is to leave a rich mathematics legacy, not only for his seven year-old daughter, but all who are interested in the subject.
“I am going to be remembered as somebody who revolutionized the presentation of mathematics in Jamaica. I want to be remembered as somebody who cleared up all the misconceptions, [and] somebody who has all the concepts correctly explained,” the mathematician added.
He also writes poetry and plays eight different instrument, he said. But nothing beats his love for math.
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