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coloring outside the lines

When i was in kindergarten, we did a little art project probably in December: the teacher drew an outline of the digits "1980" on a piece of construction paper for each of us, and told us to color in the numbers. I drew little mice inhabiting the holes in the nine and the eight and the zero, with their little tails hanging over the edge of the holes. The teacher kept coming over to me and telling me to draw inside the lines. I didn't; instead I gave one of the mice a little red and white striped sweater and a hat.

In fourth grade, the teacher assigned homework: to list the primes under 50. My dad showed me how he could write a program to calculate and print out all the primes under 500. He explained how the program worked, and I got it. I proudly brought in the dot-matrix printout, and the teacher told me I had cheated. I was told to redo it, by hand and independently, and I was ashamed. (For the record: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, and 47.)

Mrs. Humphries, Mr. Stockholm -- I'm glad I didn't agree to be constrained by your version of right and wrong. Brute-force calculations are for people who can't think of a better algorithm, and coloring inside the lines is for people without any more interesting ideas.

Reader Comments (1)

I only know you from a few conversations but these stories don't suprise me at all. I can easily believe that you've been going in your own direction for your whole life. Good for you!

4.23.2005 at 05:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlfred Thompson

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