He’s been called today’s Professor Julius Sumner Miller, is the national Local Hero for 2018 and was one of 10 international finalists from 30,000 teachers for the Global Teacher Prize.
His name is Eddie Woo, maths teacher at Sydney’s Cherrybrook Technology High School, and he is one of the 10 greatest teachers in the world.
Eddie also now has a special appointment from the New South Wales Department of Education as a ‘master teacher’, who travels across the state, conducting master classes in maths.
Eddie is an accidental star, made famous by the innovative idea he had of filming his maths lessons and putting them on YouTube for a student who was seriously ill.
Suddenly the rest of the world discovered this dynamic young teacher, and his online maths classes were dubbed WooTube, and the fame juggernaut began.
And modest Eddie realised he was famous when he was waiting for a meal in a Wagga Wagga pub and a tattooed, burly young bloke said to his mate “I swear that’s Eddie Woo!”, as related by the ABC’s Australian Story.
What makes Eddie light up are students who claim they hate or don’t understand maths—we see a passionate gleam in Eddie’s eyes and a determination to turn around that attitude.
When Eddie drops into a country town, there’s the kind of welcome waiting for him that usually goes to a rock star, largely due to the huge number of fans of his free WooTube channel. WooTube has more than 200,000 subscribers around the world, and Eddie’s videos have been watched more than 12 million times.
But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Eddie.
His parents migrated from Malaysia with Eddie and his siblings, and as a child, Eddie endured racist taunts and bullying at school, which has given him a natural empathy for underdogs. He says that when he does playground duty he is always watching for the kid on his own or on the outer of the group, because he remembers what that was like.
It’s hard to believe that this charming and ebullient young man was once scared of going to school.
Today, as a husband and father of three children, including one with severe allergies, life is full to overflowing as he follows his passion to make the world love maths, and to have teachers revered as much as surgeons and judges.
Currently you can see him on ABC television as the mentor in the program Teenage Boss, helping teenagers understand the way family budgets work when they become family treasurer for a month.
But there’s something even more important to Eddie, and it’s his faith in Christ, which he says is central to his identity, shaping every decision he makes in all aspects of his life.
“I embraced my faith fully as a teenager during high school through the Inter-School Christian Fellowship,” Eddie tells Warcry.
“That’s when I first interacted with Christians who demonstrated to me that belonging to Christ didn’t just affect their Sunday, it actually redefined every part of who they were, seven days a week,” he reflects.
And that’s a valuable life lesson teacher Eddie Woo has taken to heart.