August 17, 2007

The Road

"There is no royal road to geometry."
~Euclid (A Greek Mathematician)
This quote is Euclid's response to a question that King Ptolemy asked concerning Geometry. He was asking if there were an easier or shorter way to learn this area of mathematical study. The "royal road" that Euclid was referring to, in his response, was a road that was built by the Persians that became known as the quickest and easiest road for travel. The messengers on that road made famous the motto of the U.S. Postal carriers of today. So, when King Ptolemy asked Euclid if there were an easier way to learn Geometry, Euclid's response meant that there was no quick or easy way to learn.

Geometry, as with so many subjects that are studied in school, don't have a "royal road" to travel on. Today, we have easier ways to travel, easier ways to bank, easier ways to communicate, easier ways to get food, easier ways to work... everything is getting easier and easier. So, it is only natural that a child would want the easy way out of learning. Unfortunately for us all, there are just some things that if you make them any easier, there is something that is lost.

Now, I am not just writing this to make a statement about the difficulties of the modern child, I am also writing this because in a few moments I am going to begin preparing to be a teacher again. Honestly, I would rather carry a sleeper sofa to the third floor of a house (which I have done more than once this summer) than to write lesson plans or come up with course objectives.

I enjoy being a teacher, really I do. I like being around the kids, I actually like teaching them math, and I love teaching the Bible classes, but I do not enjoy all of the preparation stuff. So, I guess in some ways, I am looking for that Royal Road as well. I want to be a good teacher, but I want the quick road to get there.

Anyway, I saw this quote and I felt like it was very fitting for the moment. Not only for my Geometry students, but also for this Geometry teacher.