Rebekah wants to be an algebra teacher. She announced this a few months ago, about the time she turned 15. “You do know,” I said, “to be an algebra teacher, you can’t just study algebra. You’ll have to be proficient in math at all levels, through calculus, including geometry.”
Only six months before, she had been complaining every night about her geometry homework. It’s too hard. It’s not as much fun as algebra. I can’t think spatially.
“I know,” she simply replied. A few weeks later, her report card arrived from Sacred Heart Classical Center. Geometry: A+.
“It got easier,” she said.
When I was my daughter’s age, I knew that I would go into some field of math or science, possibly to teach, most likely to engage in research. A year later, I had decided on physics as my major, which should come as no surprise to the readers of this scientific journal. Oh, wait . . .
In the small Midwestern town where I grew up (and in most small towns in other regions of the United States in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s), everyone assumed that any child who showed academic promise would choose a math or science major for college. When we took an IQ test in the fourth grade and a handful of us were chosen to...