Vale Beth Southwell
Sadly we acknowledge news of the death of Associate Professor Beth Southwell PhD (Lond), MEd (Syd), Grad DipEd TESOL (CSU), DipEd (Syd), COET (Lond), BA (Syd).
Beth Southwell who had a longstanding involvement with MERGA, AAMT, the Mathematical Association of New South Wales, as well as other professional associations. She served as an AAMT councillor.
Beth taught in Sydney schools, but travelled to the UK for her doctorate in mathematics education. Her research in Papua New Guinea and Australia focused on curriculum development, problem solving, affective factors in mathematics learning, and language in mathematics for ESL students (especially adults). Beth took a “connectionist” approach to teaching and learning and was particularly interested in forms of assessment that capture and further develop student understanding.
Through her work with Department of Education curriculum reviews, MANSW, the Primary Association for Mathematics, the NSW Institute for Educational Research, MELA, MERGA, AAMT and PME, Beth made significant contributions. With painstaking attention to detail and a passion for successful teaching of mathematics, she continued to contribute to books, conferences and journals until her last few weeks.
She also continued to supervise and teach at the University of Western Sydney as long as possible. Beth was passionate about academics’ rights, and successfully fought for tenure to continue beyond the age of 65, for reasonable workloads for all staff, and for the recognition of quality teaching. She also made an impact by publishing under a pseudonym about women in academia. Beth was a member of MERGA’s Publications Committee, and was an associate editor of MERJ for several years.
Beth published a paper that summarised her experience of “Reviewing the Reviews” for MERJ. She also edited “Square One” and was an occasional guest editor of special editions of other journals. Beth was a tireless worker who was determined and resilient, was firm in her opinions, and led by example. Through her work with Department of Education curriculum reviews, MANSW, the Primary Association for Mathematics, the NSW Institute for Educational Research, MELA, MERGA, PME and AAMT, Beth made significant contributions to mathematics education.Many MERGA members have enjoyed chatting with Beth at conferences and other events, so it is sad to think that we will no longer have these opportunities. In 2008, MERGA was honoured to be able to rename the Practical Implications Award as the Beth Southwell Practical Implications Award.