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Is Your Passion for Mathematics Contagious?

Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Assumption College English professor James M. Lang uses his perusal of murdered math teacher Colleen Ritzer's Twitter feed as an opportunity to reflect on the connection between an instructor's enthusiasm for the subject and student learning.

Lang mourns the lack of solid evidence that a teacher who exudes enjoyment for the subject matter being taught gets more material across to more students, but testifies to the effect Ritzer's enthusiasm had on him:

I am a word person. I respect and admire all things mathematical, but they don't come easily to me. As I read through Ritzer's Twitter feed, though, I couldn't help being infected by her passion and wondering whether I was missing something. I clicked through to a few of her online problems just to see whether I remembered anything from my distant formal mathematics education, and was surprised to find some satisfaction in solving a problem or two. I can't promise I'll spend the winter break writing proofs, but the next time one of my children asks my wife and me for help with math homework, I won't slink quietly out of the room.

Read the essay.

Start Date: 
Wednesday, January 8, 2014