Why learning?

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Why Learning?


I often get asked "Why dedicate your time to developing learning materials?" There are many more exotic pursuits with potential for higher payoffs, but most of us need and want a job that offers the opportunity to do something important--and as industries go, education and learning are fundamental to making our country competitive in the world.  In other words, while I work to make Thinkwell a winner, I also get to make a contribution to the future of the United States.  Let me explain:


Every nation needs lots of talented and well-equipped individuals--people who can develop software, or read blueprints, or build steel structures, or calculate the fuel needs of an airplane, and on and on. Every time I get to work with our mathematics expert, Professor Edward Burger, I am reminded of how important his work is to both students and the country. As a math-challenged person, I am in awe of Ed's ability to make elementary functions or calculus seem doable. Ed is one of those great teachers who can take a complicated subject like calculus and figure out a way to explain it in a way that makes sense to a mere mortal like me. Take a look at Ed's "The Two Questions of Calculus" and my point will become obvious.




I have enjoyed many days of just watching Ed talk about calculus or college algebra, or seeing him solving and graphing equations. It dawned on me one day that he has mastered two of the greatest challenges: he knows math cold--from the fundamental theorem of arithmetic to multivariate calculus--and he can speak from his knowledge in a way that lets all of us share his understanding.


I do not think Ed knows he is making us more productive as a nation by helping people learn algebra or trigonometry or calculus. I think he just wants to share his passion with others. Every time I watch him I know why I am working here.

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I completely agree that education is the future, not just for America but arguably for the world, as Chris Anderson suggests in his answer to this year's annual Edge question

http://www.edge.org/q2009/q09_2.html#andersonc

There are so many great innovations going on in this area - now truly is an exciting time.

I read 'Made to Stick' and thought it was fantastic - if the book's ideas can be translated into improving teaching methods then you will change many lives, which as you say is truly important.

I've recently read 'Reckoning with Risk' by Gerd Gigerenzer which illustrates how important it is to make teaching stick, for a summary of how this can work in statistics see my blog entry

http://wayoftheinfonaut.blogspot.com/2009/02/teaching-methods-are-another-area-that.html

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This page contains a single entry by Carl Tyson, CEO published on January 14, 2009 4:58 PM.

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