Lynn Steen

My fortune cookie today read, “If you’re happy, you’re successful.” Usually for me that is true, but not today. For during that same lunch my iPhone told me that Lynn Steen had died. I never had the good fortune to meet him in person or to even talk with him, but I loved him and learned so much from him. His words, “Mathematics is the Science of Patterns,” from an article he wrote in Science in 1987 and his other visionary works on math education have been my guiding lights. I have long wanted to write something about math education that was beautiful and compelling enough to make it worthwhile for him to read. But alas, I have waited too long. I will nonetheless not give up trying.

Lynn Steen sought a revolution in math education that would enable every child to participate in our more and more mathematical world, to see the wonder and beauty of its patterns, and to fall in love with his discipline. Today, as I remember him, I dedicate myself once again and ever more deeply to this great task he has left for us to complete.


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