Bon Voyage

Week two has ended.  The roster is final.  The census is confirmed.  The ship has left the dock.  The students have tested their oars.  They almost know the tempo.  I can already guess who will pull steadily; who will take breaks; who will move to the edge of the oar to gain leverage.  It’s not a slave galley; they are all here by choice (if only by family proxy).  I’m playing the role of captain, navigator, and first mate.  I even get to pick which Scylla and Charybdis to steer between.  Will I lose some of my crew to the dangers?  Unfortunately, yes.  Will I lose most of my crew and return to dock powered only by the tide?  If past experience is a predictor of future returns, no.  I’ve sailed this ship before, several times, and have always returned with a majority of crew, well-weathered, but hardy.  I’ve even had students signup for new voyages (sometimes to the same destination).

I am, in fact, the captain of two voyages right now: one to the land of continuity and change and one to the land of discrete computation.  The inhabitants of the two lands are different species in the same genus and are related in the limit.  We row past many cities on the shores of the lands and we take time between rowing sessions to enjoy the sites.  Unfortunately we have too little time to become true citizens; we can only absorb some of the culture.  It’s dangerous in fact to go too deeply into the interior; the lure of undiscovered treasure and the urge to map the wilderness can cause a crew member to mutiny and not return on the charted course.

But now I must assume my role as navigator and chart course corrections to give to myself as captain.  The voyage must progress.  It has to converge before infinity.  After all, I have the ship owners to answer to on our return.


One thought on “Bon Voyage

  1. I love the analogy, Charles. What a wonderful picture to paint in the minds of our students – Learning as an infinitely long journey. Your words suggest at an able and weathered captain, one that the crew ought to be confident in putting their faith in. May you lead them all to where they want to go!



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