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More Than a Rock by Guy Tal

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24Finding the Needle

The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

I didn’t quite grasp the value of a good teacher until my first semester as a university student, when I entered, with great trepidation, my first calculus class. Up to that point math had been a necessary and unpleasant presence in my studies, requiring monumental effort just to get by with a passing grade. I saw it as a dry, formulaic pursuit, devoid of creativity and insight. It did not fit with the way my brain worked, which tended to thrive on finding correlations and commonalities among seemingly unrelated things. Math seemed to stand alone, having little to do with the beauty of the natural world, the mystery of a good book, or ...

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