Dr. Sam Savage is an expert in the field of uncertainty and risk. He is a Stanford Adjunct Professor who corporate managers and utility executives seek out to learn ways to make their operations smarter and safer.
It is a complex field, Dr. Savage says, but one he has discovered a new, remarkably simple, and revolutionary way to teach.
"It's like the switch from Roman to Arabic numerals," Savage said.
He says his new system of thinking about and computing probability and averages is so simple, and eight-grader could learn it.
How does he know?
He's done it.
Last fall, Savage made his first of many trips across the Bay to West Oakland Middle School and the classroom of Kennan Scott.
His goal was to prove his point. He ended up finding a partner-in-crime.
"The first time I walked into his classroom it was like we've been teaching together for years," Savage said.
Scott and Savage had an instant chemistry that made their collaboration not only successful but fun for them and Scott's students.
"It's like stand-up with us," Scott said. "It's unwritten. It's unscripted. It's amazing to watch (Savage) capture the room with his energy."
Scott knew his students would benefit from a visit by such an academic heavyweight. What he didn't know, in addition to how well the two of them would hit it off, was the confidence his students they would gain in the process.
"They are walking out of class saying, 'I can go to Stanford. I know a guy," Scott said.
As for Savage, he not only proved his point about the simplicity of teaching uncertainty and risk, he is enjoying teaching perhaps more than he ever has in his 40-year career.
"I don't ever want to stop doing this with Kennan," Savage said.
As for transferring what he has learned from teaching the eighth-graders, Savage is confident it will translate when talking to his professional peers.
"Corporate managers have an attention span on par with that of middle school students."