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The Power of Teaching

Serendipity works, by definition, in amazing ways. Because I went to New Zealand, I rented a house on Waiheke Island, which is now being considered by another professor for his sabbatical next year, who emailed me. And his email led to my visiting his home page, and clicking on a pointer or two, and then my reading an amazing story about teaching in a presentation by Daniel Fallon of the Carnegie Corporation. I will not ruin the story by excerpting from it, except to say it is about a first grade teacher (that is, a teacher of six-year-olds, though the other definition of “first grade” also holds) named Miss A, and the effect she had on her students. It reminds me, as I face another group of 80 MBA students, that education is important: I am not there primarily to evaluate them, but to teach them, so that as many as possible of them come out of the class with an understanding of, and perhaps a love of, operations research. And while operations research may not be as important as the information a first grade teacher gets across (having a four-year-old son provides a bit of perspective on this front), it is important to remember the effect a teacher can have on the life of his or her students. I won’t be as influential as Miss A, but I certainly can work harder on having an effect on the lives of those in my class.

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