Bouncing back…

As happens with startling frequency to everyone I know, with little to no discrimination, life decided to drop on me over the last year. Needless to say, blogging took a backseat during the ride.

But, as assured by Keith Westwater below, humans are more elastic that they might seem. [more on the issues bound up with the increasingly popular term ‘resilience’ in a later post, as a good friend, Ashley, recently pointed out].

As I’m wrapping up my PhD this year, not a day goes by when I don’t have thoughts that I want to share, discuss and disseminate. I’ve sworn off social media for some time now…long before #deleteFacebook (and am feeling irritatingly smug about this decision since the emergence of the Cambridge Analytica scandal–feel free to tell me to stop gloating), but this does decrease my ability to reach others with ideas across the internet. Social media also doesn’t really encourage proper development of ideas beyond bite-size chunks. Maybe a proper, regular blog might do the trick.

So here’s a poem, originally shown me by someone I care for dearly, which takes a lovely gentle dig at us ‘mathematicians’ in favour of a more nuanced appreciation of human tenacity. Expect regular blog posts again. We are back to vertical.

Resilience by Keith Westwater

Mathematicians     have worked out

how to calculate     the bounciness of a ball:

(the coefficient of this x the cosine of that)

+   the differential of today’s weather     all ÷ by

a piece of string     (and the speed of the train)

= the same as    dropping different balls together

and seeing which ball     has the longest bounce


Measuring how well     a person will rebound

after being dropped on     is still being worked on:

some believe     it has something to do with

the thickness of their skin           whether their stretching

reaches a breaking point     or results in       withstanding

whether they can fight and flee          how many times

the person has returned to a vertical position before

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I'm a mathematics teacher currently working in the area of teacher development at the University of Cape Town. I've an interest in language in education, education policy and sociology and general ideas around equity and adequacy in public primary and secondary schooling in South Africa and other developing contexts. I'm currently doing my PhD at UCT. When not thinking, reading and writing about education issues, or working with teachers, I can normally be found either somewhere on the slopes of Table Mountain with my dog, or behind a piano.

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