A Tribute to Dr. Robert Sylwester

Dan Raguse

Ask people to recall a person who impacted their life, and there's a good chance they will name a teacher. It's not hard to understand why. Great teachers care about the lives of their students, they inspire, encourage, and give more than they take.

If you asked me who was influential in my life, I would tell you Dr. Robert Sylwester. He was a professor, a writer, a speaker, a mentor. And at his core, he was a teacher. Bob passed away recently, about six months short of living 90 years. He left behind a legacy many aspire to achieve. He was well known for his books on cognitive science and for his ability to capture an audience with insights and facts about learning and the human brain. 

I could sit and listen to Bob all day long. Because of him, I became a better teacher. I learned that learning was more than memorizing and following procedures. I learned that teaching was more than telling. I learned that our greatest gift is our ability to grow our brains, to think more deeply, ask more questions, explore more ideas, make more attempts, and celebrate more “aha!” moments. 

I will miss Bob's frequent newsletters, his humor and stories, his love for the Oregon Ducks, and his passion for learning. But because of who he was and what he did, he will continue to live on through me and countless others. 

Dan Raguse is the executive director of MLC.