Two of the people that have most influenced my thinking are smiling at you right now. At least Sir Ken Robinson is. I looked long and hard but could not find a picture of John Dewey smiling. Sir Ken gave me permission to be creative while Mr. Dewey impressed upon me the value of experience in the educational process. To these names I would add Jo Boaler of Standford whose work in teacher education in math has been completely illuminating in so far as it has shone the light squarely on the need for teachers to help children understand the math they are learning. I would also include Vi Hart who's videos on irreverence in math class are so inspiring. And finally I would add Carol Dweck who gave us Mindset theory with the unbelievable idea that everyone can learn math if they have a Growth Mindset.
And finally my experiences working with English Learners has taught me the humility that comes with standing back and listening to the way people from other countries do math and think mathematically. The diversity in the ways we count and communicate mathematically are one of the hidden riches of global thinking. I also think of all the students with disabilities I have worked with some of whom think very differently in terms of the maths in their lives. Some function, and very well too, with an almost exclusively understanding of nominal number as opposed to cardinal number while others can seemingly compute in milliseconds..
I have been lucky indeed to embrace such diversity of thought, experience and practice during the past 50 or so years.