Flow and mathematics


The year after I graduated from college, I decided to take more math classes so I could plug some holes in my math education (I graduated with a BA, double-major in math and secondary education). The first class was the honors section of advanced calculus II, which is a rigorous treatment of differentiation and Riemann integration in many dimensions. We ended up doing quite a bit with such crazy topics as differential geometry.

In some ways, the class was way beyond me. However, with the students and the “professor,”:http://www.math.unc.edu/Faculty/petersen/ I somehow had to take my effort up a few levels, and I did. I gained a lot of insight about space, transformations, and calculus from that class. And, somehow, despite the crazy effort I had to put into it, or probably because of it, I found the class _fun_. Somehow, the combination of professor, class, and material was just right to produce an extended optimal experience as discussed in “this book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060920432/qid=1100889047/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/104-3896394-8631167 “The class was way too short.”:http://www.scienceblog.com/community/article3532.html Several years after the class, I caught up with Dr. Petersen again and discussed the class. He remembered it very well, and, as it turns out, the other students were doing such things as studying at Oxford on high-powered scholarships and doing cutting-edge research.

It’s thinking back to classes like this that makes me want to go back to school.

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