In Conversation with Tullamore native Debbie MacCaffery

Debbie you are originally from Tullamore in the Midlands but are working as a Science and Maths teacher in Australia..is that right?

Yes, I have worked as a Science and Maths teacher since coming to Australia. My current position is part time (3 days per week), as I still have small children. I teach junior Science and Maths and then I have a senior Maths Class and a Chemistry class too. The courses for high school differ slightly here but the majority of the content is very similar to what is covered at home. I really enjoy teaching in Australia and in particular I love teaching students for whom Maths and Science may be a struggle. It is my challenge to find a way to communicate a difficult idea or concept in a way that makes sense to them.

What course did you choose after secondary school/why? My degree was in Chemistry and Microbiology from UCD and then I did a Higher Diploma in Education at Trinity College to become a teacher . Maths and Science teaching suited my 3rd level course perfectly.

What was your favourite subject at school and why? (assuming it was a science one!)

Science and in particular Biology was probably my favourite subject at school, by a nose over the rest of the subjects I did for my Leaving Cert. I think the reasons that I loved Biology are still the same today as they were in Mrs Garry’s class!! Firstly, I love the fact that within the boundaries of our skins and skeletons, reside these immensely complex and independent organisms, capable of intellectual brilliance and physical feats, but yet whose equilibria can be so easily disturbed. I also am a passionate Environmentalist and I think that Biology and Chemistry studies helped to shape this. I follow lots of Science blogs just to find out new facts and for the thrill of the knowledge. I love passing on those insights.

What kind of science subjects did you study as part of your journey to the career you chose?

In school I took Biology and Chemistry as my senior science choices. I then studied Chemistry for my degree along with Microbiology and Biochemistry, Statistics and Mathematics and some I.T.

What would you say to someone considering a career in science?

A career in Science is the start of a life long journey of learning. Initially after school I wanted to be a doctor or a physiotherapist. I had two great Science teachers who instilled in me a love of Biology and Chemistry and even though I was not studying or pursuing my initial career choices, now I have come around to think that for some of my students, I could be the person who inspires them to follow a career in Science themselves. Science is so varied in it’s career opportunities today – from Marine Biologists to Lab Technicians, and Dental Hygienists to Climate Change Technicians. There are jobs that will exist in years to come in Science fields that we haven’t even planned yet. These jobs will be technically centred and will require trained scientific thinkers. In particular I like to see more girls taking Science subjects, if they enjoy them, as a door to a science career. In 2015, the UK Education Secretary said data produced by London Economics consultancy showed that girls who take Maths and Science at high school senior year levels go on to earn a third more in wages than those who keep to the Arts and Humanities.