The 2021 ISDDE Prize was awarded to Charles Lovitt, who is a distinguished designer whose outstanding contributions to mathematics education over many years are characterised by their combination of depth and breadth. His work on the design and development of innovative materials for teaching and professional development has had a profound impact on the teaching and learning of mathematics, in Australia and far beyond. Focusing on teachers and the act of teaching, his efforts have always been about designing materials that support experiences that inform, challenge and support teachers in their day-to-day work.

At the core of his innovative approach to professional development has been a sequence of initiatives with different collaborators to design exemplary classroom materials that lead teachers to analyze and adapt their existing practices – at the same time giving their students outstanding learning experiences. He has always claimed that the lessons “came from teachers across Australia” but it is remarkable how those that passed through Charles’ hands proved exceptional!  Some of his lessons show something of genius in their combination of mathematical depth with accessibility and, very often, the ‘surprise and delight’ that the prize committee looks for.  Refined over years in trials by diverse users through a sequence of projects, these lessons should be in any collection of “classic lessons that every child should experience”.

A description of Charles’ philosophy and approach can be found in his 2011 Educational Designer[1] paper with Doug Clarke, based around the design of the Mathematics Curriculum and Teaching Program (MCTP) materials. These show creative originality not only in the brilliant activity sequences in many of the lessons he has designed but in the then-novel presentation of teacher guidance through a three-strand mode of presentation, designed to link the practical management of the activity sequence with analysis of the underlying mathematics and the pedagogy. This gives the specific support without which a teacher’s reflection on these links, and the implications for their teaching, is often lost. Simultaneously, the design economically communicates achievable lesson plans, whilst highlighting pedagogical features that can transform the culture of school mathematics.

Charles’ creativity in designing lessons that have the power to transform the learning of mathematics for many students sets him apart from most others in the field. He carefully crafts his lessons to engage learners, highlighting the value of stories to set up a problem or context, incorporating differentiation by ensuring multiple entry and exit points. Charles’ has a rare ability to see the potential for a great lesson in a perhaps-familiar lesson idea by  adding an intriguing hook and a low entry point, moving then to translate, modify, adapt and amplify the mathematics that is hidden in the task.  This underlies the outstanding quality and impact of the work of this outstanding designer.

[1] Lovitt, C., & Clarke, D. (2011). The features of a rich and balanced mathematics lesson: Teacher as designer. Educational Designer, 1(4), 1-24. Retrieved from