A Surprising Land of Splendor – Part 3

Chapter 4: A Tender Coming-of-Age Story
(complete with wolves and bunnies)

Every tour guide knows how to fill those three hours on the bus trip between landmarks: tell a good story. If I’ve learned anything in my years on both sides of the mathematics classroom, it’s that the more impersonal and crystalline the subject matter, the more we crave the “I-Thou” connection between teachers and learners that comes from the telling of our stories. I’ve had my share of textbook teachers over the years—the ones who stick to the subject at hand without giving away the slightest whiff of their own heartbeat or dream life. But I’ve also been blessed by those willing to tell me their memories, their own metaphors, their own glimpses out the window on their journey through math. I suppose the least I can do for you is share a bit of my own.

Do you remember learning to drive? Do you remember what motivated you to learn?

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A Surprising Land of Splendor – Part 2

Interlude

Here’s what I’m asking you to forget: I want you to put away from your mind the pain of Mrs. Roger’s classroom, the slick palms and trembling twelve-year-old voice, as you searched the back of your classmate’s head for an answer, any plausible answer; the two trains were running towards each other on the same track, one at 60 miles per hour, and one at 80; when would they meet? And the absurdity of asking that question among all others. Would there be survivors? Would the explosion be heard for hundreds of miles around? Is it too late right now to board one of those trains, and be delivered from Mrs. Roger’s expectant stare?

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A Surprising Land of Splendor – Part 1

 Forward

Consider me an ambassador: an emissary from a foreign land, a place whose name I dare not mention for risk of causing you to turn away before the end of this very sentence. Do you truly have faith in that age-old hope of finding beauty where you least expect it? Can you let go of what you thought you knew, what you thought you feared, what you remember feeling when you were young? Can you forgive?

Imagine a land of exquisite, other-worldly splendor. Some would call it ‘exotic,’ though when you look more closely you see but an amplified, glorified version of the types of landscape features that are familiar to you. The hidden connections and relationships between the myriad pieces of our own natural world have their incarnation here; what is invisible is here proclaimed, and the complexity will quickly overwhelm you if you aren’t careful to take in the scenery in small bits. Natives of this land continually experience the bittersweet sense of knowing and loving a place of profound beauty, with few people around to share it. The rest of the world believes only what they’ve heard, the misconceptions about the place that lead them to believe it uninhabitable. Those misconceptions fall into three main categories.

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