Math in the News
Ed Burger Is Finalist for Top Teacher Prize
December 3, 2009
The award is designed to honor great teachers and encourage departments and institutions to value teaching and their own teachers. The winner receives a prize of $200,000, an additional $25,000 to their home departments, and the opportunity to teach a semester at Baylor.
The popular and humorous Burger stresses that showing empathy is the key to teaching, whether it's in a seminar at Williams or at a class of 200 at the University of Colorado, where he's been a visiting professor. To do that, he thinks "about what it's like to be sitting in that audience, in a sea of people, when the professor is so far away he's a dot and I'm looking at overhead transparencies. What is that experience like?" he likes to ask.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Burger says the role of a teacher is to change lives. His own path was changed as an undergraduate. Originally planning to become a lawyer, Burger said his mathematics instructors at Connecticut College "just kept feeding coal into the fire."
He cautions teachers to avoid "the 10-year question": "What will my students retain from my class 10 years out?" Rather, he advises they spend time demonstrating how to "think mathematically."
The winner will be named in spring 2010.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2009.