Pathways To Learning Hong Kong Registered School 566985 & 600733

Matthew Cooper
English and Computer Science teacher

Qualifications: B.A. (Hons), CELTA

After studying English Literature and Philosophy at Sussex University, Matthew taught English as a Second Language in Thailand before getting his CELTA in Chiang Mai. He moved to Hong Kong, where he continued teaching English as a Second Language before joining ITS as a teacher of English Literature and Philosophy. While here he has taken the opportunity to continue his education and professional development in particular expanding as a teacher in his special interest area of Computer Science

On becoming a teacher:
It was the most natural progression for me to take. I enjoy learning and talking about new ideas. I see and value the importance of being strong in the basics of any given discipline in order to understand more complicated ideas. And I enjoy helping students to understand the foundations necessary for them to explore new ideas by their own volition. There simply isn’t anything better in this world than learning about it, and I thoroughly enjoy sharing in that fact.

I have come to increasingly appreciate the degree to which effective teaching relies on a combination of logical and creative thought. We have to plan what and how we’re going to teach, while also finding imaginative explanations to aid our students’ understanding. The moments in teaching I appreciate most are those when a sequence of small steps culminate in the understanding of a challenging and complex concept. It is in those moments that all the time and effort we put into our profession is realised in a student’s simple utterance: “Ah, I get it!”

Teaching as part of my life:
I’ve always been a bit of a ‘Jack of all trades’ type, and the diversity of my hobbies reflect this: I’m an avid writer, hobbyist programmer and competitive powerlifter. As a teacher this variation contributes to my ability to find explanations that span across disciplines in non-obvious ways. My favourite students are the more logical ones who struggle with creativity, as well as the more creative ones who struggle with logic. I relish aiding the realisation that the two are far more interconnected than we usually assume.

The person I most admire in Economics:
John Maynard Keynes. This is not so much that I consider myself a Keynesian economist but more that he forced capitalism to relook at is underlying ‘truths’. Keynes pointed out the flaws in the Adam Smith theory of mass production/consumption model. His statement that “In the long run we are all dead” challenged the underlying belief that the model is self-correcting. Keynes led to a much deeper thinking and study of what makes capitalist economics work and why it often fails.

An admirable person:
This is a difficult question. There are countless examples of great people who have contributed to the utterly momentous sum of art and knowledge. Nonetheless, some of my favourite writers include Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Haruki Murakami, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson. This list could get long. If I had to pick just one writer, it would be Ernest Hemingway because his combination of simplicity and honesty in language has had such an undeniably huge and important impact on the novel as a medium.

An inspirational person:
I chose a writer for the previous question, so I’ll choose a programmer for this one: Ada Lovelace. Although, strictly speaking, she couldn’t have been a programmer since computers as we know them today didn’t actually exist when she was alive in the 19th Century. Despite this, and being the child of Lord Byron, a notoriously terrible father, and having to overcome immense amounts of sickness in childhood, she didn’t let any of that, nor the lack of a keyboard, stop her from creating the first ever computer program: an algorithm to compute the Bernoulli numbers, designed to run on Charles Babbage’s Analytic Engine. Sadly, he never actually finished building it, so she never got the chance to run and test her program. Despite all those minor setbacks, her program was later discovered to be amazingly bug free. Not only do I find her intellectual prowess astounding, but the drive to create something beautiful despite the impossibility of it being properly realised is truly an inspirational thing.

Top tip to my younger self:
Your education is your own responsibility.


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