Professional Beliefs

I believe that every student deserves a high-quality mathematics education.

I believe that professional mathematics teachers—those who have committed to their own lifelong learning of mathematics and how to teach it—are the best experts on what is going on in math classrooms. Of more importance, I believe that professional mathematics educators care about nothing more than they care about student learning.

I believe that mathematicians and mathematics educators can work together with teachers, mathematics supervisors, administrators, and parents to chart a vision for mathematics education and to implement an effective mathematics program.

I believe that we should gather and report a wide range of evidence from a variety of sources about the effectiveness of different approaches to teaching mathematics and various textbooks and instructional materials that support mathematics learning.

I believe that constructive collaboration is always better than divisive attacks if we care about the mathematics students learn.

Message to Students

I cannot separate my professional beliefs from the values I tried to follow in my teaching. I distributed a card with the following message to my students when I left Burkina Faso in 2001.

The Important Things in Life . . .

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Vision
  • Compassion

Translated from French:

My dear students,

I am very happy to have been your teacher. The time has flown by and it is with an ache in my heart that I leave you. It’s certain that I will return one day to Burkina Faso to see you.

Education is the most important factor in the future of your country. Thomas Sankara1 said that youth is the hope of tomorrow. He was talking about you!

In the choices you make, do not be lured by the temptation of easy gains or by self-interest. No matter what path you may choose, you can also use your knowledge and your experience in service to your country and your community.

You can work together to find solutions to the many challenges that face Burkina Faso, such as health, water, food, deforestation, poverty, illiteracy or the development of the country. You can make a difference in the future.

On peut le faire!2

I am proud to have known you, and I will carry you always in my heart.


1. Thomas Sankara was a visionary leader of Burkina Faso who lived with honesty and integrity and who led with courage, vision, and compassion until he was assassinated in 1987.

2.This is a French expression I used with my students. It means “You can do it!” or “We can do it!”

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