Nat Banting (BEd’10, BSc’10) is a Saskatoon-based educator that teaches mathematics full-time in with Saskatoon Public Schools and works as a mathematics education lecturer for the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and St. Francis Xavier University. Throughout the course of his career, he has found ways to expand the learning and understanding of mathematics for all ages with the creation of tools such as FractionTalks.com, Upscale Pattern Blocks, math fairs for grade school students, and presentations at conferences across North America.
Q. Why did you choose to attend USask?
I graduated from a Saskatchewan High School, and I was from a smaller town, so the obvious choice was Saskatoon or Regina. What drove me to choose the University of Saskatchewan was that some of my friends were going there, but also the opportunity to do two degrees en route to becoming a teacher. I did a degree in mathematics and then went into education in a sequential program.
Q. Why did you decide to pursue degrees in Education and Mathematics?
Mathematics is a fantastic tool to think with. There is an interconnectedness with a simple beauty to it. There are beautiful things in math like surety and proof. I wanted to be a teacher for a long time because I was fascinated with learning and how we come to things and what it means to say that we know something. Math is my favourite thinking tool to achieve that.
Q. Do you have a favourite memory of your time at USask?
There are a lot of good memories. In the College of Education, you meet a lot of like-minded individuals. We all shared a passion for education and often formative moments were had during small conversations between classes.
Q. Can you tell me about your career as an educator?
Teaching is where my heart is and always will be. There are a lot of opportunities that can come your way. Right after convocation I taught within the Saskatoon Public Schools, and I am still with them today. For the first seven years, I taught at Tommy Douglas Collegiate. During that time, I also finished my grad studies, and my children were born. It was a busy time. Then I moved to Marion Graham Collegiate. During 2020 and the COVID era, I was a lecturer at USask, and now I’m back at Marion Graham.
Q. What inspires you to innovate and teach?
The job of the teacher can be emotionally heavy, but once you see the payoff it matters so much more. For students, school is their whole world. It’s where they have the majority of their experiences. To get to see their excitement and motivation to learn each day is what inspires me to do what I do.
Q. USask’s mission is to be what the world needs, how do you think you are being what the world needs?
Teaching is my craft, specifically mathematics education, and I try to take young people and put them in a position to make mathematical decisions. Education is moving towards a place where kids are put into autonomous situations and I think that’s what the world needs, more intentionality. Students need to learn mathematics because we need numerate citizens that are active and engaged.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow a career path like yours?
The world is more than what you see and think. There are way more opportunities around every corner than you would ever expect. Do what you do and share that with others because you never know who may be influenced by it. Always be forward facing and say “yes”. You never know where an opportunity may lead. If you are curious and passionate about something you will have the energy for it.
It’s the People of USask who enable us to be what the world needs.