Ok, apologies for the self-congratulatory tone of this blog, but I'm really rather proud of Emaths.
In February 2004, I was giving a speech to a conference of teachers. There I was pontificating on the benefits of collaboration: how we, the 350,000 maths teachers in England are stronger together. That if we could network and share resources and ideas, the system really could improve. I talked about the need for a one-stop-shop, a place where any teacher could add their resources and find support materials.
As the speech went on in my usual evangelical manner, a delegate stood up in yelled – and I mean really yelled – at me "why don't you just do something about it?"
On that stage, in those seconds, my life changed forever.
I drove home that night with his words going round and round my head. He was, of course, right.
So, I started to write Emaths. And on March 4th 2004, the site was launched.
I don't watch my site stats very closely, but this morning I noticed that the number of users was approaching a pretty significant number and knew that it would tip over that number at some point today. And it did.
50 million users.
At some stage this afternoon, the 50 millionth user of Emaths did some maths or found some support or used some material.
Emaths has been a labour of love over the past decade – though it looks after itself nowadays (except for the funding required!).
I am proud of what the site has achieved. I created, designed and wrote Emaths from scratch, by myself. No grants, no government funding, no corporate money. Just me, at home trying to find a solution to that heckle all those years ago. And then, of course, all those teachers who have been generous enough to share their approaches on the site.
50 millions users. I am proud that I have played a part in the education of many millions of children and proud that the site continues to do so.
Emaths has drained my wallet and has driven me to the edge over the years – those nights of working on the site at 4am when I had to be up for school in the morning!
For over a decade now, my every waking moment has been filled with the obsession to 'do something about it'. I am absolutely sure that the answer lies in large scale collaboration, that every single teacher of mathematics can benefit from the knowledge and skills of every other teacher. Bringing these teachers together, creating a 'social brain' of all our experiences and knowledge is what continues to drive me. I have tried several possible solutions, Emaths being the first (and like the first born, has a special place in my heart). Other attempts have included the NCETM and 'wiki-curriculum' in Canada. Today, after much experimenting and research and pain and tears and success and failure, all of the wisdom is being rolled into my last hurrah, Complete Mathematics – never before have we created something so powerful and never before have I felt we are so close to realising the vision I had on that stage in 2004.
For now though, for today, I'm going to spend a few hours thinking about my beloved Emaths and all that it has achieved. I hope that the site has helped you over the years and, if you have one to hand, would like you to raise a glass to the old girl.
So, excuse the self-indulgent blog, but I think that 50 million is worth celebrating and am proud that Emaths will continue to give free of charge support for many years to come.