Robert Tang – Bringing Math Down to Earth

Year: 2021 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Lisgar Collegiate Institute
Grades 9 to 12 - mathematics
Ottawa, Ontario


“Mr. Tang is a game changer for so many students who are trying to figure out the relevance of their studies and pathways to their future. He is well known among students as a demanding teacher but most sought after because students find that he helps them succeed in the toughest of subjects – math. How does he do this? Every year, he chooses an overall theme which provides the context to the projects and takes math down from the ether to events and experiences of actual life.”


Teaching Approach

It is said that there is nothing more practical than a good theory. Robert’s approach is the application of that principle. His creative method to teaching uncovers current applicability of math which engages students in a way that text or rote learning cannot. For example, he used the popular movie/book, The Martian, as a basis for a term project. Students would become astronauts on the Ares 3 mission to Mars, and then follow the survival tactics of the protagonist, who uses math to find a way to survive. Students were tasked to do the calculations to determine the fuel requirements for the rover to reach the Erebus crater, the calculations of calories in food rations to determine how long supplies can be extended or use the hexadecimal system to establish a mode of communication - the kind of initiative that unites rich learning experiences, confidence building, and social skills.

In the Classroom

Robert’s lessons are consistent and he is transparent about what steps he expects students to show with each problem. For him, homework is essential to succeed in any math class. This is what allows him to ensure that students are on the right track. He tells his students that without practice they will not be able to follow the pace. He also makes his expectations clear by providing a table of contents with the schedule of the subject matter to be covered and the work to be done to stay on track. His classes are given at a moderate pace, allowing every student to follow. In addition to teaching math, he finds ways in include other subjects into his class and he makes math relevant to everyday life.

Outstanding Achievements

Robert’s unique perspective on education is reflected in the messages he provides to his students with regards to their future. This is based on realism, and not on the traditional pedagogical orthodoxy. He tells his students that they should follow their dreams as opposed to “keeping their options open”. This means that if the work they do in his class is not something they like, then a career in STEM may not be the right path for them. His message is stark. If you want to pursue a future in the arts, then focus on that - no need to take math in grade 12. For him, students should not make themselves suffer just because of what others expect.

Get in touch!

Lisgar Collegiate Institute
29 Lisgar Street
Ottawa, ON  K2P 0B9
Twitter: @ LCIStuServices