I’m in my twentieth year of teaching mostly science and mathematics, so it is understandable that most people are surprised to learn that I majored in, of all things, history.
It’s true. I focused on Western Europe, especially modern France, for my B.A., and post-WWII Greater China for my M.A. My pre-certification education classes, including student teaching, were taken between these two degree programs.
Student teaching in social studies did not go well, for the simple reason that I explain things by reducing them to equations. For some reason, this didn’t work so well in the humanities, so I took lots of science and math classes, and worked in a university physics department, while working on my history M.A. degree, so that I could job-hunt in earnest, a year later, able to teach physics and chemistry. As it ended up, I taught both my first year, along with geometry, physical science, and both 9th and 12th grade religion. Yes, six preps: for an annual salary of US$16,074.
History to mathematics? How does one make that leap? In my mind, this explains how:
- History is actually the story of society over time, so it’s really sociology.
- Sociology involves the analysis on groups of human minds in interaction. Therefore, sociology is actually psychology.
- Psychology is the study of the mind, but the mind is the function of the brain, one of the organs of the human body. Psychology, therefore, is really biology.
- Biological organisms are complex mixtures of interacting chemicals, and, for this reason, biology is actually chemistry.
- Chemistry, of course, breaks down to the interactions of electrons and nuclei, governed by only a few physical laws. Chemistry, therefore, is really physics.
- As anyone who has studied it knows, physics often involves more mathematics than mathematics itself.
…And that at least starts to explain how someone with two history degrees ended up with both a career, and an obsession, way over on the mathematical side of academia.