Geometry with Mr. Sturgill
This week, we are proud to introduce our math teacher, Mr. Joshua Sturgill. Mr. Sturgill is currently teaching across the street at the Studium at Northfield School as well as working as a jack-of-all-trades at Eighth Day Books. While not jumping back and forth over the Arkansas River to promote classical learning, he can usually be found sitting on his front porch, surrounded by plants and writing poetry. (You can read some of it here!)
In high school, Mr. Sturgill struggled in math because he wasn’t allowed to ask questions or try to see problems in a different light. Approaching math at St. John’s College, first through Euclid and then progressing through the quadrivium chronologically, he was able to make the connections he always knew were there but had been discouraged from finding. He is looking forward to providing those same opportunities to students, whether they are in the same boat he was or could comfortably read a math textbook for pleasure. Students from all backgrounds will be able to find Euclid challenging and enlightening, particularly through the guidance of Mr. Sturgill, who will be bringing in additional readings, such as Plato, to understand the philosophy of the geometry even deeper.
We want to be clear: at MSW, we aren’t trying out a new, experimental math program but are instead returning to the texts and ideas that were standard for generations. While a math class won’t look like it would at another high school, we see that as a benefit because it means our students won’t look at math the exact same way other students will, in fact we think they will be able to see these problems even better.
The Liberal Arts are the freeing arts, whether the students grows up to become an engineer, a lawyer, a mechanic, or a mother. Not only will our students be able to understand the complex math and science that they are later faced with, but they will be equipped to ask questions such as, “Just because we can, does that mean that we should?” As in all other classes at MSW, students in math class are aiming for Truth, which comes with both a mastery of certain mechanical processes and a yearning for the connections behind them.
Find the application for MSW’s first freshman class, beginning this fall, at our website:
“Having Mr. Sturgill as a teacher, as a mentor, as a person in your life is one of the best decisions you could ever make. He’s just so brilliant, but it’s not the kind of brilliant where you think he was born a prodigy. No, you can hear in his voice, in his lectures, how much thought he has put into it. It almost seems effortless, it is so authentic and true. It’s so amazing how he sees the universe and it is absolutely inspirational to be able to be in a classroom with him and be able to hear all the knowledge that has been passed down through him. He teaches in a way that keeps you wondering, so there’s never a boring moment in his classes. He is not only a great teacher, but a great and kind person.”
– Current student, rising junior
Many may wonder why MSW is taking a slightly different approach to mathematics (and science) than what is done in other schools. This may be especially concerning, given the focus currently put on STEM. To defend our approach, we turn to Albert Einstein, who needs no further introduction.
“So many people today—and even professional scientists—seem to me like somebody who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is—in my opinion—the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth.”
– Albert Einstein, as quoted by Mitch Stokes in his article, What Does Jesus Have to Do With STEM?
Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!