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Dr Maths MBE

New Year Honours recognition for Dr Maths

Published on: 31 December 2015

Steve Humble, also known as Dr Maths, has received an MBE for services to education.

Dr Maths MBE
Steve Humble, MBE

Steve who is a teaching fellow in PGCE maths at Newcastle University and a freelance Maths consultant has inspired thousands of young people with his puzzles and books.

Steve Humble’s efforts to make maths more accessible to the masses are nothing short of record breaking. He has dedicated the past 20 years of his life to educating and enthusing children and adults alike about the subject – working locally, nationally and internationally.

Driven by his desire to turn around the declining numbers of students studying maths at A level and beyond, he has embarked on a personal campaign to illustrate how relevant the subject is in everyday life with innovative and inspirational teaching. By highlighting the maths in everything from art and architecture to farming, growing and cooking food, he attempts to persuade people that ‘maths is everywhere’.

On receiving the award, Steve said: “I am very honoured to receive an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in recognition for services to education. I believe passionately in the importance of mathematics and that the subject should be communicated in an exciting way to as wide an audience as possible. I see mathematics public engagement as a key to young peoples’ futures and I will continue to work tirelessly to help bring this great subject to the public’s attention.”

His passion for the subject dates back to his earliest childhood memories of working out puzzles with his father and these formative experiments fuelled his belief that puzzling is at the heart of mathematics. He has used puzzles and experiments throughout his teaching career to prove that the fundamentals of mathematics are not about difficult formulae, but about logical ways of looking at and thinking about things.

Inspiring a new generation of maths teachers

His career has spanned a whole range of educational establishments from comprehensive to grammar and sixth form to FE. He is now inspiring a new generation of maths teachers in his role teaching on the Secondary and Primary Initial Teacher Training Courses at Newcastle University.

He is an exam question writer and has been appointed to the Government’s Russell Group committee known as the A level Content Advisory Body, which is considering the redevelopment of A levels.

Steve has worked as a Senior Regional Coordinator for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. He is a Member of the European Mathematical Society committee for Raising the Public Awareness of Mathematics in Europe and his research focuses on working with children in Africa and India to improve learning.

His maths teaching rarely stays within the confines of the classroom and he is well known for his very public puzzling. A regular newspaper columnist, he is known fondly as Dr Maths. He writes puzzles books in the same name, is featured on the New York Times Numberplay blog and appeared on television and online video service Teachers TV.

Maths outside the classroom

Steve was the Director of the Numbers Festival, which took place in the summer of 2015 and which asked people to nominate their favourite number as a novel way of encouraging them to think about the ways in which we use numbers and maths in our everyday life.

Over the last 15 years he has organised and created various outdoor mathematics walks around the North East, and holds the Guinness World record of 1,001 children taking part in a ‘Maths Treasure Hunt’, which took place on the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides in 2014, beating the previous record attempt of 466 participants. He has also created the Metrocentre's ‘Maths in the Mall’ walk - as well as other similar initiatives in collaboration with organisations such as BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the the Life Science Centre in Newcastle.

Many schools have praised his maths walks as having a transformational effect on the thousands of young people who have been involved and taken part. In a government report of 2011, Carol Vorderman said “Dr Maths is committed to inspiring children, providing opportunities for them to do mathematics that they find interesting and exciting.”

Steve received congratulations from many educationalists including the Permanent Secretary for the Department for Education, Chris Wormald, who stated that he was "delighted" that Steve’s "hard work and commitment to education has been marked in such a fitting way". Professor Peter Grindrod CBE of the Mathematical Institute, Oxford University on hearing of the award said "well deserved and we all very proud". 


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