Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pursue Your Glee

There was an interesting article in today's Denver Post about Melissa Benoist, a 2007 AHS graduate. I don't know how many of you have seen Glee (I'll admit that I sometimes watch it), but Melissa stars as Marley, the new girl on Glee. I especially liked this part of the accompanying interview:

John: I want to end this by reading you a quote that you gave me when you were 16, and then I want to know how you think 16-year-old Melissa Benoist would feel about the way 23-year-old Melissa has turned out. You told me of your future plans: "I have known for a long time that acting is what I want to do, so I haven't really tried anything else. It's pretty much all I'm really good at that I have discovered yet. It's so scary to think that, wow, I could go straight into being a starving actor less than a year from now. But I feel an obligation to go to college and get a degree. I just do." ... So you were true to that. You went to college, and now the rewards are really starting to play out. What do you think?
Melissa: I am definitely very proud. A lot of it still doesn't feel real, and not just "Glee." Everything that I have accomplished since 2006. Not to say that it's been easy. If I had any advice for my 16-year-old self, it would just be to stay strong, because acting is not an easy lifestyle, especially when you are starting out. That being said, it definitely makes it all worth it when it does happen.

What I like about this is that Melissa chose to pursue her passion, acting, yet still felt that it was important to pursue her education as well, and be knowledgeable about the world around her. That doesn't mean that college is for everyone, there are lots of ways to be curious and learn about the world around you, and many of them don't include a formal degree program. But I think it's important to be intentional about that, to make a conscious effort to be curious and to learn.

That's what I'm attempting to do in our Algebra class. I realize that not all of you are interested in becoming mathematicians, scientists, or engineers, and that learning Algebra may not be at the top of your priority list. But by trying to share relevant examples from the world around us, whether that's the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Missy Franklin's speed in the backstroke, or how far a car travels in three seconds when going the speed limit outside of AHS, I try to show you how Algebra - and algebraic thinking - can help you make sense of the world around you. So be curious about what you're learning in Algebra - and in all your classes - even if they aren't your passion.

So even if you aren't planning on creating the next iPad (lots of mathematics involved in making that magic happen), working to alleviate issues caused by global climate change (at it's heart, that issue is mathematically based), or working for the National Security Agency (most of modern cryptography - as well as eCommerce - is based on factoring large numbers), I'm hopeful that you'll be curious enough, and caring enough, to engage with the issues and the people around you - and that demands some mathematical thinking.

I believe that pursuing your passion is key, and I encourage you to do so (as Melissa says, "stay strong.") But I also think it's incredibly important to be aware of the wider issues in the world, and to continue to learn and be well-informed even about those areas that are not your passion. Because in order for our society to work, we all have to be knowledgeable, engaged and informed citizens.

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