In Response to: Adventures in Fine Hall

Few understand that mathematics can be exciting, that it is also important, and that it should not be intimidating. But most people fear it. I myself in high school was mysteriously put in an honors math class; I never understood a word the teacher spoke. We did calculus in the senior year of high school, and I never understood it. When I got to college and calculus was introduced to my class, I was flabbergasted and exclaimed out loud: I had this in high school! But of course I was so intimidated by math teachers, most of whom I found not only frightening but absolutely unable to explain anything as they stood before the blackboard with their posteriors facing the class.

I wish people who love math would do something about making math teachers apostles of math and not killers of interest in math. I think perhaps I could have been very accomplished in math had some teacher tried to help. I got all A's in math always, but never knew what the hell it was all about. I remain now in my late years still unable to understand what math is all about and why it really is important. I am also sure that science is taught in the same lackluster way and that only students really committed to it from the start ever learn anything really about it. History, literature, languages, social studies -- these are taught relatively with competence, but not math or science. You can get A's in these disciplines simply by doing what you are told to do, but you never understand why.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.