Quixote Loved Phi

Call me crazy, but I’ve had this thought more than once, and I’m a fan of pairing two ideas that have no business meeting.  If Cervantes could’ve sprung his most famous character to life we’d have learned that phi was Don Quixote’s favorite number. Which other number could’ve delighted him as much? Phi…the Golden Ratio…the Divine Proportion…approximately 1.618…exactly (1+√5)/2…the long revered irrational number that since ancient times has captured the awe of its observers would have charmed Quixote. He might’ve said to his pragmatic sidekick Sancho Panza, “Heed well the beauty that lies dormant within this ratio, my friend.”

Bronze statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza...

Image via Wikipedia

Quixote was an idealist, an optimist, and a chaser of the fanciful.  A little like me.  As a teacher I struggle with chasing after perfection.  It’s a necessary farce of a habit I have as a teacher. I want the ideal. I want things in my classroom to go off without a hitch.  It’s extremely easy to turn into a raging idealist during summer when school’s out and I’m not in front of students. (This past summer proved no different.) Planning lessons and revising curriculum – these are really just academic tasks if they don’t meet the immediate feedback of opinionated students. Students remind me every class period of the best laid plans of mice and men.  When or if my well intentioned script doesn’t last, my realist alter ego has to take over and make adjustments.  Idealism fades in favor of realism. That’s teaching. Learning is messy. I guess I prepare my lessons a la Quixote and prepare myself for the aftermath a la Sancho Panza. Now I’m wondering what number Sancho would’ve loved?

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One thought on “Quixote Loved Phi

  1. Hi,

    I came across your blog via David Wees, and I love your idea of making the math classroom awesome! As a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be interested in learning about an educational TV show about math that we’re putting together. “The Number Hunter” is going to do for math education what Bill Nye The Science Guy did for science education. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

    I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We’re teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.
    I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.
    Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.
    If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. If you have any questions, please let me know.
    Thanks in advance for your help,
    Stephanie

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