Person: Walter, Marion Ilse
Marion Ilse Walter was born in Berlin and escaped the Nazis on the Kindertransport to England. She emigrated to the United States in 1948 and after earning her doctorate, founded the Mathematics Department at Simmons College. She published over 40 journal articles, several children's books, and the popular book The Art of Problem Posing.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Marion, who was just starting school, remembers that nobody would sit beside her although at this time she did not understand why that was happening.
- The teacher said she would not report Marion on this occasion since she was the best in her class at arithmetic.
- Marion said that maybe this made her try extra hard to be good at arithmetic after that.
- Mathematics became for Marion a safe subject while many others were not.
- Later, in late 1935, Marion was sent to a Jewish boarding school near Ulm.
- Marion came back to Berlin before the end of 1938 for her Christmas holidays.
- However, Marion was given a banana which she thought was a wonderful little act of kindness.
- Once in England, Marion was sent to Eastbourne Boarding School but soon after she arrived the school stopped for the Easter holidays.
- Marion liked it there and she spent the rest of the war in the Abbey.
- Marion sat the Cambridge University School Certificate examinations at the age of 16.
- The local mathematics teacher had resigned, replacements were hard to find at this time, and so Marion was asked to teach mathematics at the Wykey school.
- Walter spent two terms teaching mathematics at Wykey, discovering that she enjoyed teaching.
- When in New York, Walter became a student at Hunter College, a famous women's college which around the time that Walter studied there had begun to admit men.
- However, permanent positions were only available to teachers with a Master's Degree so Walter studied part-time at New York University.
- The US Atomic Energy Commission had installed one of the first electronic computers there and Walter's job mainly involved computing.
- Walter applied for a National Bureau of Standards Summer Student Scholarship to spend summers at the Institute of Numerical Analysis at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
- Isaacson then wrote to Derrick H Lehmer, the Director of the Institute, recommending Walter.
- Walter was granted a second fellowship to enable her to spend the following summer at the Institute of Numerical Analysis.
- Many of the same senior staff were the same as the previous year but one notable addition was Marshall Hall Jr. Olga Taussky-Todd became Walter's mentor and encouraged her to continue work for her Master's Degree.
- On 22 June 1953 Walter became a naturalised American citizen.
- Walter graduated with a Master's Degree from New York University in 1954 and, despite being encouraged to continue working towards a Ph.D. by Lipman Bers, she decided that she wished to leave computing and return to teaching mathematics.
- George Pólya ran a seminar on "how to solve it" which greatly influenced Walter.
- After the award of her doctorate, Walter taught at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
- In addition to many papers on mathematical education, Walter published a number of books, some single authored and some with her collaborators.
- In 1972 Harvard University terminated the program that Walter was teaching.
- I've used Dr Walter's manipulative materials and approach throughout all those years, and they work wonderfully in enabling students to understand concepts, both abstract and concrete.
- You cannot do better than Marion Walter's insights for teaching mathematics.
Born 30 July 1928, Berlin, Germany. Died 9 May 2021, Eugene, Oregon, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Germany, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive