I am proud of myself for trying to struggle and maintain even though it is hard and I want to give up but don’t. I like when I can understand and explain and answer questions you ask. It makes me feel smart and free. -A student of teacher Lee Mahavier*

When we do mathematics, we develop the independence to see for ourselves what is true, and why. We develop the faith in ourselves, when truth hides from us or our beliefs are shown false, to keep looking. We develop the confidence to explain what we see to others.

As we move into our lives, the habit of discerning for ourselves what’s true leads to smarter, well-founded decisions. Facing discouragement and conflicting advice, our faith that we can and will figure it out keeps us moving toward our goals. Over time, our confidence in speaking what we know to be true develops into influence. As we become smart, we become free: free to make our own way, and to change the world as we go.

What’s at the center of my classroom? A bulls-eye, and it’s labeled “smart and free.”

Posted for the Virtual Conference on Core Values. (Thanks, Riley!)

*1999 handout by Lee Mahavier: “On three crucial elements of Texas-style teaching as shown to be successful in the secondary mathematics classroom.”