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.”
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?