I often think of the words of Alfred Mercier, “What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” I marvel at how true that statement is! It also reminds me of an experience I had many, many years ago when I had to take the last class for my doctoral degree. It was a graduate statistics class. That’s right, an advanced math class. For me, since it didn’t involve clefs, fingering charts or a key signature I was petrified. Let’s just say that math, let alone a graduate statistics class, was not my strong suit. I was intimidated and frightened, but I knew I had to get through that class to finish my degree. As I walked into the classroom, I was sure this course was going to involve pain and suffering. A little old lady then walked to the front of the class, and with no words, no introductions, no formalities she just started flipping a coin in the air. Over and over. All that came out of her mouth for what seemed like forever was a simple “heads” or “tails” as the coin landed in her hand after each toss. After about twenty tosses, each of which she announced as landing “heads,” she asked, “what do you think the next toss will be?” She had me. I was hooked. By the end of the first class I knew I had a boatload of work to do to catch up to my classmates, but I loved this class and learned more in those couple of hours than I had in all my other math classes combined. Why? Because she made it fun. No matter what we were learning, she made it enjoyable. Everything she had us do was pleasurable. She embodied the words of Mercier. I loved going to her class! I loved math! I loved learning! I know I will never be the master teacher that my professor – “Dr. W.” – was, but having the model of her teaching was worth its weight in gold. And I bet I got you wondering about the answer to coin flip #21?! Dr. W. would have loved that!
Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
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