Like Prof. West, Prof. Burger believes that empathy is the key to good teaching.
Prof. Burger says that he wants "to think about what it's like to be sitting in that audience, in a sea of people, when the professor is so far away he's a dot and I'm looking at overhead transparencies. What is that experience like?"
Prof. Burger says that the role of a teacher is to change lives.
As much as he finds math fascinating, he realizes that most people will not use calculus after college. The utilitarian promise "is an empty one," he notes. "You don't need to know how to build a bridge to go over one." He says that the hardest thing professors can ask themselves is "the 10-year question." "What will my students retain from my class 10 years out?" And so his lecture is devoted to showing the audience how to "think mathematically."
"I don't give grades; I just report the news"
he is only convinced a student understands a concept when he can "explain it to an 8-year-old."