We want to take a moment to pay our respects to James Stewart, an inspirational educator, world-renowned author, and mathematician, who passed away peacefully surrounded by family at his home in Toronto, Canada on Wednesday, December 3. Read the official media release.
In the last forty-plus years since two of his students at McMaster University suggested he write his own calculus book, world-renowned author and mathematician James Stewart basically never stopped writing. Having essentially devoted his life to mathematics, Jim published over seventy textbooks, releasing a new text or edition almost every year. But calculus wasn’t Jim’s only passion. In addition to being a mathematician he was also a concert-level violinist and music philanthropist. These very different themes played an integral role in his life as told in the upcoming feature documentary, “The Integral Man,” created by Auratic Media.
During his life he donated generously to the University of Toronto, McMaster University, which named their Mathematics Building “The James Stewart Mathematics Centre” and The Fields Institute of Math which named their library “The James Stewart Library.” He also financially supported young musicians in their career development, many of whom are now recognized as outstanding performers.
Recently, Engaging Minds sat down with Jim at his home in Toronto, Canada to discuss his love of mathematics, how students learn, and the role of technology in calculus education.
Watch excerpts from Cengage’s interview with James Stewart below.
As they sat with Jim, they gathered a wealth of insights about teaching and learning. Here are a few of their favorites:
- Technology brings calculus to life. Calculus can be regarded as the mathematics of motion. It shows things approaching other things. This can be hard to convey that in a static object like a book, but on the screen, calculus comes alive.
- Jim wanted students to see that calculus is both practical and beautiful. Throughout his books, he incorporated that message with the practical aspect of mathematics. Solving problems is very powerful, but that is only one aspect of calculus; Jim also wanted students to discover the inherent beauty of calculus. This is challenging to convey because one cannot explain or realize it all at once—it is cumulative.
- When students came to his office for help on a particular topic, and other students brought similar problems, Jim realized the topics that may need further explanation or pedagogical improvement. When he began writing his first edition years ago, Jim paid attention to his students, and to the questions that they were asking.
Read the transcript of Cengage’s interview with James Stewart.
The legacy continues
The team at Cengage worked with Jim before his passing to create a plan to continue his legacy. Jim selected and mentored his team of co-authors over the years to carry on the vision for his books to maintain his voice, approach and accuracy. Jim touched the lives of many and he will be mourned, but he will not be forgotten. His legacy will live on to enrich the lives of others still to come.