Today we’re pleased to have award-winning author Rebecca Lim visiting Alphabet Soup. Rebecca Lim is a writer, illustrator, editor and lawyer based in Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of nineteen books for children and teenagers. Her latest book is Eddie Woo: Superstar Maths Teacher, part of the Aussie STEM Stars series.
From the publisher:
Eddie Woo has already packed a lot into his short life. Australian High School Maths teacher, education ambassador and advisor, author, TV Host and YouTube sensation, Eddie has been putting the magic in maths for the past ten years, allowing students to learn in creative and practical ways, and being at the forefront of school-based integrated STEM education. His is an inspiring story of empathy, generosity, mentorship, personal connection, and overcoming adversity.
How did you go about your research for writing about Eddie Woo?
I was lucky, because Eddie has a huge social media presence and footprint and I could get to know him from his Maths videos as well as talks he’s done (like his 2018 Australia Day Address and TED talk) and TV and radio interviews he’s given, even before I actually got to speak to Eddie himself. He kindly let me ask him loads of personal questions over the course of several emails and phone calls.
Did you watch any of Eddie Woo’s YouTube videos before writing this book?
I did watch some of Eddie’s YouTube videos including footage of Eddie spontaneously running over and giving the winner of the 2018 Top 10 Global Teacher Prize, Andria Zafirakou, a huge congratulatory hug. It was a prize that he was also shortlisted for, along with 9 other teachers from around the world. It told me that Eddie is exactly like he is in all his videos – spontaneous and warm and human. All great things in an educator, advisor and industry expert.
You moved to Australia from Singapore when you were a toddler. Were there similarities in your school experiences and Eddie’s?
I copped lots of casual racism when I was in primary school, even from ‘friends’, and experienced a brief, intense period of bullying when I started at a new school in Grade 6 because I was the new, very tall, very dorky Asian kid in class. I don’t think I’ve forgotten a single instance of racism that I’ve experienced in this country from the 1970s onwards – I can tell you where it happened, who I was with, how old I was. As recently as 2020, during the second Melbourne COVID-19 lockdown, I experienced racism from my neighbour’s extended family while I was standing in the ‘safety’ of my own backyard. So there are definitely similarities between Eddie’s school experiences and mine, but I didn’t get ‘roughed up’ like he did, which I’m very thankful for.
Do you have a tip for children in primary school who’d like to try writing nonfiction?
Some key skills for writing non-fiction are:
· being able to work through a lot of data, pick out the high points or themes and pull them together into a compelling narrative
· being observant about your subject, about the time that they live(d) in and how the things in their wider environment might have contributed to making them who they ended up becoming
· being empathetic – you might not agree with the subject or the subject matter that you’re writing about, but you need to be objective and be able to step into your subject’s shoes or see things from their perspective
· being truthful and factual – whatever you write, you need to be able to argue it, defend it, back it up
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?
Something with a bit of fantasy and paranormal in it because I love setting things in our world but then having the characters and the story go completely off road, into unexpected places. Like lots of writers I have three or four things on the go at the moment. The story with ‘legs’ will win out eventually!
Eddie Woo: Superstar Maths Teacher is out now! Ask for it at your favourite book store or library.