By Michael Hartley
I guess, when your grandfather and grandmother and mother are educators, and your father has a Ph.D, it's not surprising if you also turn out to be passionate about education. I'm Michael Hartley, the webmater of Dr Mike's Math Games for Kids, and on this page I'd like to tell you a little about myself and what drives me.
I've always loved mathematics. My folks told me once that when I was three, I could already recognize the numbers up to a hundred. In grade 4, I couldn't see the point of splitting numbers into columns before adding, since I already doing that mentally. In grade six, I once ended a creative writing piece "My pet alphabet's done/to my satisfaction/I'd rather indulge/in decimal subtraction. Yes, I was a through-and-through math geek.
But it's not about geekiness. I just enjoyed math. The more I enjoyed it, the more I played with it. The more I played, the better were my math skills. And the better my skills, the more I enjoyed the topics. Being surrounded by encouraging parents and teachers only helped fuel this virtuous cycle of math.
My enjoyment began to crumble during my university days. I enrolled in a Science course at the local University, specialising in Math, Physics and Psychology. After first year, I dropped Psychology. After third year, I dropped physics. And after my honors year, there were no more subjects left to drop. I felt disillusioned and disheartened. I was still getting fantastic grades in math, but I enrolled in a Masters in mathematics not because I wanted to, but because I didn't know what else to do.
I had grown up with a sense, somehow, that my value as a person was derived from my skill at mathematics.
Michael Hartley, The guy behind Dr Mike's Math Games for Kids
It was about this time that a friend brought me to a church, and I heard about Jesus, how He lived and died and came alive again, and how this makes it possible for a person to become a friend of God. I grasped this opportunity. I was 19 at the time.
Many things changed that day. One was my attitude towards math. I realised now that my value as a person was not tied to my achievements or ability, it was tied to God's attitude to me. Suddenly, my skill at math was not a coin with which to purchase esteem, but was back to its rightful place as a gift to be enjoyed, and with which to help other people. I continued with my Masters degree, later switching to a doctorate - I was officially Dr Mike.
After I graduated, I moved to Malaysia to work as a lecturer in mathematics and computer science. There I met my wife and started this website. I want to pack this website with game ideas and other tips for parents and teachers. I hope that the games here will help more kids enter the virtuous learning cycle I experienced - where fun with math reinforces skill with math, and vice-versa. If you have a story to tell of how this website has helped your child make a leap towards learning, do drop me a line. Emails like that tell me I'm on the right track!
In 2007 I returned from Malaysia to my hometown (Perth, Western Australia) to take up a job as a mathematician in the oil and gas industry. My job is to make computers smarter at helping people find oil and gas. This is one of many industries which needs a lot of math. In my spare time, I work on this website, adding new games, worksheets and more, testing them on my two school-aged sons.
If you like what you've just read, sign up for this site's free newsletters: