[HOME] TFBCON2003 (Students) [Prev][Up][Next]

Craig Desjardins '03

I've only recently begun to realize the influence Prof. Banchoff has had on my academic and personal development, and in many ways my views on the relative importance of things.

Although other former students and colleagues have talked at great length in their remembrances about Prof. Banchoff's teaching ability, it simply could not be left out of my own. There are of course good teachers and bad teachers, and this is something college students talk endlessly about. But Prof. Banchoff cannot even be compared to these others. I'm not even sure that his method of teaching can be suggested to others, because without the emotional dedication and attachment he obviously has to the courses and the students, I'm not certain it could work. Occasionally when people talk about the props he brings in and the objects he uses, there is a tendency to think of it as gimmicky, like so many high school demonstrations dreamed up in government education labs somewhere. But the mathematics attached to the problems that he gave us was so interesting, and because of his ability to engage students amongst each other in the projects, they became so much more. Who knows how many people have solved his "Twice as Old" problem or the largest deliverable package (which he proudly displays in his office); what's important is that every student he has had discovers it for the first time, and feels like they've discovered it for the first time. As someone [Don Albers] mentioned at the banquet on Saturday, Prof. Banchoff was born to teach, and we are very fortunate that he chose to teach mathematics.

He has a set of sticks and brackets, brightly colored, which reminded me of boring constructions we had to do in middle school and, insultingly, in high school. So I was surprised at his excitement over them, until he invited me into his office and said, "look, it's a 120-cell!" Lo and Behold, there it was in all its glory sitting on the floor. God only knows how long it took him, but it was, indeed, magnificent. One can't help but feel enthusiastic about these little sticks after that experience.

His dedication to and admiration of Abbott is positively infectious. Flipping through reel after reel of microfilm searching for references to and letters from Abbott in the London Times, converting written letters to digital databases, and working hours on building a website for Abbott, I can say that I more than once questioned the validity of this project. However, given any short period of time to discuss Abbott's position, his relevance, and his accomplishment with Professor Banchoff, and I became as enamored in his persona as any of the romantic characters to be found in mathematics' history. I can hear Prof. Banchoff in my own voice each time I demand a friend, family member, or acquaintance read Flatland or when I tell some story about Abbott and his history.

Perhaps most special is his continued interest in my life, academic and otherwise, despite the fact that I never decided to pursue geometry. My interests have fallen on algebra/number theory and mathematical logic, and though he'll always make a face when I mention it (as if to say, "I know that you can study these fields, but why?"), he still calls me to his office just to make sure everything is running smoothly.

I consider it a privilege that I took three classes with Prof. Banchoff, an honor that I worked with him, and a fortune that I know him.

[Craig has left a remembrance in that section of this web site.]

[HOME] TFBCON2003 Web Pages
Created: 11 Oct 2003
Last modified: Nov 6, 2003 9:34:26 AM
Comments to: dpvc@union.edu
[Next] Laura Dorfman '95
[Up] Student Assistants of TFB
[Prev] Cassidy Curtis '92