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Life and Production: S1 E7: Forte

Saffron faces a new problem.

Dizzying 

On the electronic wall-sized smart board, a dizzying array of numbers and symbols filled up the space. Each character meant something and therefore allowed the onlooker the chance to understand what had been wrought. Dr. Saffron Lesane steadied her hand to compose the final few strokes. Finished, she stepped back to inspect her work. Saffron gazed over the board and talked to the internal computer.

Denson-Rollinger Form

“Erase lines six through nine,” she said. The computer performed the task and those lines vanished from the screen. Saffron picked up her stylus and returned to her work. She struck lines through the figures. Her arms went up and down like a conductor of an orchestra. Her natural hair style swayed with every move that she made. As she focused her attention on the board, a few professors and a janitor stood by, rapt at the professor’s gorgeous use of logic. Vexed by these little pieces of data that seemed to not fit with the rest of the equation, Saffron touched on the screen and caused the figures in question to disappear. She took a much needed break.

“The great Dr. Lesane! I see you’ve got yourself a problem,” a voice called out to the otherwise empty classroom.

Saffron turned to see from where the voice originated. She recognized it right away. Professor Roberto Vincent, teacher of history, leaned on the door jamb.

“You know, I was going to be a mathematics teacher, too. Then I realized that my forte was not only talking about battles and war but the ideas which lead up to those events,” he said.

“Well, Bob, we all can’t be History professors either. I bet you know all about Delaware prior to the GT, huh?”

“I’ve got stats, facts, and figures for days. Those were pretty harsh times then. So, what’s this you’re working on here?”

“It’s the Denson-Rollinger form. I’ve been playing with it to see how fast I can display it in its entirety,” she said.

“From memory?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’ve got to hand it to you. Your expertise and reputation precede you. I wanted to discuss with you about the possibility of you being a national speaker for the Institute. If you accept, all meals and traveling expenses will be on the school. You don’t have to decide right away. Give yourself twenty-four hours,” he said.

“Thank you, Bob. I appreciate the offer and I’ll talk it over with Trevor tonight.”

“You do that and again take your time. There’s no rush,” he said. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow after you’ve made your choice. Take it easy.” Professor Vincent exited from the classroom doorway and proceeded down the hallway. A bevy of students charged past him and he ventured to his own classroom after a while.

The Brightest Ones

Saffron left the form on the board but minimized it and swished it away with a few flicks of her wrists. She met her class with a sense of enthusiasm.

“Good morning class. We will begin today with the fundamental theorem of calculus,” Saffron said.

The classroom breathed a collective sigh.

“What was that about?” Saffron asked.

“We thought that you were going to give us that form over there,” Tommy Coran, a sophomore, said.

“That’s just my little pet problem I’m working on for the moment. No, you’re attention ought to be on the theorem I’ve presented...here.” Saffron enlarged a chart with coordinates Y and T. “Fill in this diagram. It should take a few moments. Once all of you have completed this task, I will continue with the lesson,” she said.

Saffron returned to her project while the students worked on the graph. She trusted her students to complete the job with efficiency and gumption. When they had all finished, they each raised their tablets upward and showed their accomplishment.

“Excellent, class. Now, what is the nature of mathematics? Is it just about putting numbers on a board and calculating them? What is the true function of calculus? Is it to present the marriage of physics and math?”

The students looked about each other before one of them answered.

Shalante Griffey raised her hand. Saffron selected Shalante. She said, “Mathematics in general and calculus in the specific sense, provide the tools for understanding space and numbering.”

“Very good, Shalante,” Saffron said. “Now, we can see what these sciences offer. The power of identifying and integrating the processes which govern the natural world is a tremendous feat of man’s mind.”

The faces lit up a bit at Saffron’s final wording. They smiled at the beauty of Saffron’s ability to elucidate the sometimes intractable aspects of learning calculus. But she made it real. Saffron’s adeptness allowed her pupils to grasp even the most arcane of mathematical problems. Her steadfastness and willingness to ensure that every student comprehended the material presented a paramount goal for her to achieve. She prided herself on the strength of her convictions and the power of how she covered a given topic. Though the lessons seemed, to some of the students, like lifting a heavy weight outside of the smaller safer weights in the gym, Saffron understood that not all of her students would get it with the quickness. 

Those that fell behind in their studies picked up new lessons and sometimes outshone the brightest ones in the class. Now, as she prepared to trek across the globe on behalf of the Delaware Institute of Technology, Saffron realized that she would have to, for the moment, leave her students with a substitute. She told herself that she would have to be the one who chose whomever the professor would be to take her place. He or she would have to live up to her standards while maintaining their own sense of self. She concluded that this would be the only way. With the possibility of speaking for the school, she weighed the option and finally made up in her mind that she would take the offer. It was about right. But Trevor Lesane would hear about it first.

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