I notice people on Twitter filling in the Census 2011 form already. (This is strange to me, because it is a record of who was in your house on the 27th March 2011. What happens if you get hit by a bus tomorrow? What if you’re called away for work or a family emergency? What if you meet a nice boy/girl tomorrow and he/she is staying at yours, or you at his/hers, on the night of the 27th?) So I’m looking at the form.
Putting aside the question of whether I am English or British, and the difficult modesty-inducing issue of whether I can speak English “Well”, or “Very well”, and the concern that if I work I am asked to skip the question “Last week, were you: a student?” (a real missed opportunity to get some useful information and, it seems to me, indicative of a misunderstanding about part time education), or the fact that my journey to work (about 70 miles each way) must be either by train, by bus or on foot but not more than one of these, we come to the tricky issue of occupation. Along with employer details, the specific questions are:
“What is (was) your full and specific job title?”
This seems easy. My job title is “HE Curriculum Innovation Advisor”. However, the prompts are “For example, PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER, CAR MECHANIC, DISTRICT NURSE, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER”, so the question really seems to want a generic version of what I do. James Grime put “mathematician”. As I said to him: if I taught I’d be a lecturer; if I did maths I’d be a mathematician. I’d like to be a lecturer, but I’m not. So what am I?
“Briefly describe what you do (did) in your main job”.
This question allows 34 characters (including spaces) on the paper form. Oh dear!
So what do I do? Professionally, I do the following:
- The main day job is HE Curriculum Innovation Advisor for the Maths, Stats and OR Network, a Higher Education Academy Subject Centre at the University of Birmingham, where I work on the Mathematical Sciences HE Curriculum Innovation Project, funded by the National HE STEM Programme.
I suppose my employer is properly the University of Birmingham. The work is split, I think, into four parts: HE Curriculum Innovation Fund (distributing funding and supporting funded projects); Research into current mathematics HE curriculum (read: course delivery and design), particularly “sector priorities” to inform distribution of the Fund; Dissemination of funded project and research outcomes and staff development; and, admin related to the other parts (although I am greatly supported in this latter by the MSOR Network).
- PhD, Nottingham Trent University
Alongside this I am doing a part-time, self-funded PhD on, broadly, e-assessment in mathematics at higher education level. If you work in HE mathematics I have a questionnaire on advantages and disadvantages of e-assessment open until 25th March 2011 that it would be great if you could fill in.
- Council Member, British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM).
Voluntary. Here I am a member of Council, a director of the company and trustee of the charity BSHM. This involves various specific voluntary activities, such as my ‘unplanned impact‘ initiative and the upcoming talk on the Golden Section which I initiated and had a hand in organising. This also means I have an advisory and decision making role with the rest of Council on BSHM affairs.
- Senior Vice Chair, Institute of Mathematics and its Applications East Midlands Branch.
Voluntary. This mostly involves helping to organise talks in the region.
- Chartership Leader, Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Early Career Mathematicians Group Committee.
Voluntary. I am on the committee for the group and involved in collective decision making. Specific activities I am involved with are organising a pilot of a mentoring scheme for IMA membership and chartership applications and I will be attending the IMA Council Strategy Weekend in March which will make a strategic review of IMA activities, mission, etc.
- Co-Host, Math/Maths Podcast for Pulse-Project.org.
Voluntary (in the sense that no one wants to pay me to do this, rather than this being necessarily a voluntary or charitable activity). A mathematics news/current affairs sort of podcast for Oxford science communication project Pulse-Project.org. I have a weekly chat with Samuel Hansen, upload the recording and add some text to a webpage on pulse-project.org. Recently this also involved a short lecture tour and recording some videos on mathematics history in Nottingham.
- Organiser, MathsJam Nottingham.
Voluntary. I organise the Nottingham branch of this ‘puzzles in the pub’ monthly event.
- STEM Ambassador.
Voluntary. I volunteered to be a STEM Ambassador in Nottinghamshire and have been CRB checked for this purpose. Working out of town a lot means I’m often not available to help with events but recently I attended an event to get teachers interested in using STEM Ambassadors and I am talking with the Big Bang East Midlands about running a stall and/or giving a talk.
- Paid maths speaking engagements.
This year I had my first paid speaking gig. I gave a lot of talks in universities when I worked for the IMA but now my current job doesn’t involve this and I don’t have a lot of spare time, so when I was asked to give a talk I asked for a small payment for my time.
- Other bits of writing.
I write this blog and I’ve been known to host a Carnival of Mathematics or write a popular maths article. So far I haven’t been paid for this sort of writing.
On my website I describe myself using: “I work in maths promotion and maths education”. On Twitter I say in my bio: “Mathematics incl. popular, recreational, education, history”.
So, really, what do I do? Advice welcome!