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Teaching

For notes on teaching.

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Statistical Science, 1999, Vol. 14, No. 1, 126–148 “A Conversation with I. Richard Savage,” Allan R. Sampson with Bruce Spencer in attendance:


Savage: The only time I really thought I taught well was in the one-on-one probing, give and take, seminar-like class, where the students are put on the hot seat and are continually manipulated and maneuvered to react in the course. It doesn’t always have to be done in a very small group. At Florida State I did this a couple of years with the large first-year graduate class in applied statistics, where we read Snedecor and Cochran [Statistical Methods] together. Spencer: Yes, I’m a survivor from that experience.
Sampson: I see Bruce is smiling; I think maybe he can offer you a counter-point.
Spencer: I remember it. We went in and there was the scary professor who would call us up to the blackboard, one by one, and ask questions. I remember one student in particular shaking as she tried to write on the blackboard. And I was so scared I went and prepared questions to ask Richard ahead of time so he wouldn’t call on me.


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Statistical Science, 1999, Vol. 14, No. 1, 126–148 “A Conversation with I. Richard Savage,” Allan R. Sampson with Bruce Spencer in attendance:

Savage: There was a math professor at Michigan who had a big influence on both Jimmie and myself, a man named G. Y. Rainich. He rescued Jimmie and brought him into the Math Department and got him going in the right direction. I found Rainich a very kindly man. I took a seminar on geometry with him when I was at Michigan. At the first meeting of the seminar there were four Rainich looked at the bunch of us and said that he would teach this geometry seminar in total darkness, “just like in Russia.” He said that they had always studied geometry the last thing in the day, in darkness, because they couldn’t afford a candle, and thus it had “to be purely mental.” And his reasoning for doing it with this group was— there was myself, who was moderately visually disabled, another graduate student who was quite a bit more visually disabled than I was, another student who was totally blind, and the only other student I can remember was a priest who I think had normal vision, but I’m not sure. So we had a blind seminar, and Rainich was very good. The three visually disabled students all went on to receive doctorates.
Sampson: How much of a disadvantage was your eyesight when you were going through public schools or college?
Savage: I think eyesight was both a disadvantage and an advantage. I never met a blackboard that I could see, and, you know, I don’t make eye contact with people. A lot of things are missing in my view of a scene. On the other hand, extreme myopes, like Jimmie and I, could read forever with great comfort. And so, both Jimmie and I did a tremendous amount of reading.

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