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Celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2019 – part 1

Benedicte Terryn tells us why she chooses to volunteer with Maths on Toast

“I wanted to share the beautiful side of maths”

Why would I spend my precious time volunteering at Maths on Toast? For the joy of seeing children and families learn, and for my own interest.

Life is busy. I have an established career, an enjoyable and demanding job, a young family to nurture, and plenty of social activities. A couple of years ago, a friend asked me ‘why do you volunteer when you are so busy already?’. This had taken me by surprise, but perhaps it should not have.  

I am keenly interested in learning processes: how from conception to old age we absorb new knowledge and new behaviours, how society can be nudged towards healthier attitudes (and unfortunately also worse ones), and how organisations learn. Maths on Toast’s library sessions offered me an opportunity to observe and engage with children in their learning, in a pragmatic way.  

“There is often at least one child who comes up with an idea I hadn’t even considered, which always leaves me happy and laughing at myself!”

Maths is beautiful, though that beauty is all too often concealed behind dry school arithmetic. I wanted to share the beautiful side of maths. For its own sake, and also in the knowledge that fostering the right maths mind-set at a family level – like Maths on Toast does – will help develop numeracy skills that are essential throughout life. As a society, we badly lack scientists and mathematicians, and there is still a bit of an image that such people must be nerds. In reality, highly successful people tend to combine excellent communications skills with high mathematical ability – and a range of other skills and attitudes. And just about everyone makes better decisions when trained in maths and analysis!  

At the Maths on Toast family sessions, it has always been a delight to see children tinker and persist, and get a glimpse into how they view things. There is often at least one child who comes up with an idea I hadn’t even considered, which always leaves me happy and laughing at myself! And I love chatting with other volunteers and staff, and sharing observations. Building on this within the charity itself, I really enjoy the discussions about strategy and direction. 

Finally, I must recall a factor common to pretty much all volunteering activities: it helps build a cohesive society. It feels important to me to engage in my local community. While volunteering options change with young children in tow, at Maths on Toast I could engage in a way that’s both feasible with my kids and meaningful to them. I help out at school fund-raising events too, but I love Maths on Toast best of all!”

Help us make maths family fun! We are always looking for people to join our dedicated team of volunteers to support families with our creative maths activities.

If you are interested in finding out more about our volunteering opportunities, get in touch us via info@mathsontoast.org.uk