Spotlight On: Andrew Pateman

Posted July 23, 2021 in Interviews & Spotlights, Teacher Spotlights By Lachlan Fitzgerald

Dean of Academic Studies, Mr Andrew Pateman, has consistently been a strong advocate for students to reach their personal best.


A committed and diligent educator, Mr Pateman continues to pass on decades of his Mathematics wisdom to the next generation of students at Wesley College. We caught up with him for a quick Q&A.

Tell us about your experience in writing a textbook.

Writing and editing a textbook was a massive time commitment. It all came about when the Head of Mathematics at the time, Mr Ian Shepperd, gave me the Year 11 specialist class and said, ‘You need to make this class your education Utopia.’ He gave me a free license to teach anything and, from a professional perspective, that had a significant impact on my teaching.

One of the alternative activities I did with that class was teaching them how to write computer programs for their ClassPad (Graphics Calculator) to solve problems. The newer Mathematics curriculum required the usage of the ClassPad, so Mr Sheppard and I decided to write up the ClassPad activities series into a textbook. It is designed to guide students through using technology to support mathematics learning. The series was never intended to make money but provided an income stream for the Mathematics Association of Western Australia.

How do you become a top student in Mathematics?

My first tip would be to look up! As a teacher, you will see your top students look up every time the teacher speaks. They will make eye contact, they will engage in every conversation and every bit of teaching instruction, and you can tell they will take that information in. When you are talking about the ‘one-percenters’ or harder problems that tricked a few people in an exercise or test. They are the things that the top students are always on top of, and that’s how they differentiate themselves.

My second tip would be to make study notes. Students who allocate time to synthesise what is taught in class, such as taking notes on key concepts and useful examples, are the students who do best.

Why should students study Mathematics?

That is a great question. Reflecting on Wesley’s capabilities, mathematics teaches students how to be logical and methodical thinkers. Mathematical skill is part of critical thinking and problem-solving and is transferable to all walks of life.

Learning to break large problems down into smaller ones is really valuable. It is also a fun subject; you learn complex concepts and then solve more and more problems. You can learn how to work through problems and say, I’m 100% confident that is the correct answer.

What does an effective lesson look like for you?

The difference between teaching 15 years ago versus teaching now is that we have access to tools like OneNote. Everything we do today is activity-based.

I will often start my lessons with an exercise, where students have to try and solve a problem, using skills they don’t have yet. Therefore, there is a need to find a new tool or new process to learn to solve that problem.

What’s one thing most people wouldn’t know about you?

I’ve always loved cars. I’ve recently bought a new car and modified it with a false floor, new suspension and reconfigured the electrical systems with a second battery and new fridge. Back in the day, I had several older cars and enjoyed pulling them apart and installing new modifications and equipment to them,

I also love time with my family and playing golf! I’ve just joined Hartfield Golf Club too.

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