Due Respect

Cite your sources openly, for you stand on their shoulders.

So, of course, I reached out, over email. If anybody has been influential in one's life or one's work, even in the slightest way, it couldn't possibly hurt to let them know it. And in fact, it may be exactly the encouraging sign they need — this very moment — to continue.

I'd only contacted Bernie once before, for similar reasons, in 2011. His book, Statistical Theory, was influential for me for two reasons. First, he communicated clearly and lucidly, with an empathy for the reader. Second, and more importantly, he placed the idea in my head that a historical narrative is pedagogically more effective than a deductive one. In his words:

... I have been gradually coming to the conclusion that in mathematics generally, the best pedagogical order for the average student—and we have lots of them—is the historical one. We who have "been through it all" appreciate elegance and generality, but we tend to forget that we ourselves did not begin with the ultimate, unified, and general approach in our own learning process. (Lindgren, 1976)

I realized that I had made a similar statement—albeit with a different spin—in a recent post, when I tautologically said that our minds are usually quite typical. It occurred to me how much an influence he has had on my attitudes toward learning and teaching.

Cite your sources openly, for you stand on their shoulders.

Hi Bernie,

I thought about you just the other day, when I wrote a blog post about approaching mathematics obliquely.

I paraphrased your introduction to Statistical Theory, where you acknowledged that most students are typical, or something very similar.

Anyway, I thought of you, so I wanted to write and let you know. Here's the post:


I trust you're doing well.

Very best,


I didn't imagine today that I'd be dealing with death so suddenly. Nobody ever does, and I can't help but imagine that Bernie wasn't thinking too hard about it either, based on the repose and authority with which he taught me — through authorship — how to approach the arts of statistics and education intuitively.

Reading remembrances, I've learned that Bernie was not only an educator, he was a musician, organist, and singer who held soirées that spread the musical love. And quite importantly, he was a figure skater, too.

So here's a belated farewell salute to Bernie Lindgren, from somebody who knew him only barely, but implicitly. There's no surprise that he was a wonderful man, for an educator's heart is built on benevolence.