The Mathematics of Influence

I recently made a new friend.  She is pursuing her PhD in Mathematics.  Her course work is finished and she is focusing on her dissertation.  Interestingly, at one point in my life, I too wanted a PhD in mathematics, but she is the first person I’ve met who was actually doing it!

Aside from the math part, another intriguing aspect is what she’s researching.  At the risk of over simplification, she is studying the teaching techniques used by the people who teach the math teachers.

Consider, depending on the circumstances, that during a career, the average teacher will directly influence 500 to 5,000 students.

And, again depending on the circumstances, during a career, the average teacher of teachers will directly influence 500 to 5,000 teachers — and thereby indirectly influencing 250,000 to 25,000,000 students.

Now, if she can help these teachers of the teachers be more effective, say 500 to 5,000 of them during the course of her career, the span of her influence will be vast and pervasive, beyond what is reasonable to calculate.  That is a profound amount of influence that one person can make.  There is the very real possibility that she could improve and even change the way math is taught to the next generation.

And if you’re one who struggled with math in school, that should be some welcome news!

What do you think? Please leave a comment!