Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Math Poem Over Here?

Well, I just wasn't comfortable posting it on my other blog, and we're talking about math poems, and I do want to share with anyone who'd like to see it, so... here it is...

Desire In a Math Class

My lover

Sat in the back of my classroom.

“My friend, who’s visiting from New York,

Wanted to join us today,” I say to the class.

Her visit has distracted me

From my usual preparations,

But I know this stuff, and these students,

And her presence electrifies me.

My hands shape ideas more fully,

My eyes look into students’ more carefully.

(Avoiding hers, and too much desire?)

The calculus is alive.

I ask, “Why do we set this equal to zero?”

Rebecca, usually shy, tells us,

“To find the highest point, where the slope is zero...”

And finishes with her hands shaping the idea.

After class is over and students are gone

She tells me how good it was to watch.

She, the playwright, saw drama in my classroom.

“They so wanted to get it.”

At first I am shocked by how good I was,

Much better than usual.

Then I blush, hoping my students

Never know quite why...

April 14, 2001

Sue VanHattum


  1. Hmm, the date seems wrong. That's years after it happened...

  2. What a wonderful poem. To me it speaks to the complex art of teaching - of the things that make it work some days and completely fall flat other days. And you know, the students really do not need to know why... Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. What a beautiful poem!

    I'm surprised that I just now discovered your blog (after seeing the comment you wrote on Doyle's) I'm enjoying your writing.

  4. Thank you both for coming over. I hadn't shared that poem much until I posted it here. Glad to know it's good. I think you'll both like Tree Spirit, too. It's my favorite.

  5. Thanks for your comments! I love the poem. I'm also very interested in the anthology you're working on. Math education has suddenly become a big interest of mine and I'm reading everything I can get my hands on.

  6. Erin, my email for the anthology is mathanthologyeditor on the gmail system. Write me. Let's talk!