Three times a week, at Demster University, a calculus class meets for lecture. It is early. 8:00 AM. For a college student, this is brutal. One hundred and fifty students enter the doors and take their seats. Most drink coffee to wake themselves up. Some listen to IPods. Others read the student paper or talk with friends. But one bright student, sitting in the front of class is drawing with his crayons, patiently waiting for the professor to start.
He is the five year old math genius, Daniel. Daniel loves math. He popped out of his mother shouting "Pythagorean! Pythagorean!" The doctor at the birth was thoroughly amazed and noted the young newborn's impressively perplexing intelligence.
Later, the newborn Daniel was given to his mother to hold and console. The mother, remembering that same phrase from her first calculus class that she failed, tried to coo and quiet her child. The shouting of the math phrases brought back horrible, long forgotten memories that gave the mother headaches.
In the weeks to come, the newborn's mother would come to rekindle that hate of math that she had repressed. On some days, Daniel would find a stray algebra book laying around the house, open it up, and work his way through a problem set. Daniel's father saw his young son at work one day.
"It was amazing. Algebraic and geometric identities, come on, that was nothing for Danny! " said the Father.
In his first few years, Daniel was sent to a grade school with children his own age. Only a couple of weeks into the year his teacher, Samantha Davis, noticed that Daniel was not with children of his own intelligence. "When the students were playing during their free time, I noticed that Danny was alone by myself at a table. So, I went over there. I asked him if he was drawing a picture of a kangaroo, his favorite animal. He shook his head. Then, I looked down at his paper. I was horrified at what I saw."
What Miss Davis saw was a page full of equations and drawings designed to map the flight of a paper airplane to be thrown from the back of class. On the page, the airplane was thrown by Johnny 'The Bully' Foster and directed into the forehead of a cartoon drawing of Miss Davis.
"Johnny told me to figure it out," Daniel claimed.
Later that month, Daniel was taken out of school by his parents. They felt that their son Daniel was 'too different' to be in school with the ordinary kids.
Daniel was different. A good different? Maybe. But for Daniel's father, the thought of wasted ability made him sick. Then, one night, the father saw a news report on 'Successful Children'. They all were great things: professors, athletes, artists, engineers, doctors, and lawyers. Theses being the only professions that are appropriate for a young, bright mind to pursue. Each young mind had one thing in common, a demanding father and mother combo. In the case of a math genius, one demanding parent would do.
From that point on, Daniel's father dreamed of what his young son might someday be. The Father, a baker on the southside, felt that practice would be the only way to fully achieve a successful end result.
"Um, one day, daddy, he came to the dinner table carrying this stack of books," Daniel recalls, " I said, 'Daddy, where are you taking those books? You have a lot. Why do you have a lot?' And Daddy said, 'We are going to practice math today Danny.' Then, I told Daddy that I was busy eating my cookies and juice. Then, Daddy said that cookies and juice won't bring home the dough when I am thirty and I need a job. Then I said 'I like dough'."
Daniel was not very receptive to the math that he was given: calculus. But, the father pursued the issue trying desperately to teach the boy math before Daniel could form an independent mind, separate from his father's wants.
A month later, fed up with trying to teach his own child math, Daniel's father signed him up for a calculus course at Demster University. He was in way over his head. The other college students saw the easy target and took out some of their repressed frustration on Daniel by making fun of him.
"Look at the math genius. What? Can't do derivatives? Not into Integrals? Looks like somebody is going to cry. Do you want your mommy? ...Baby." He figured that he was still too stupid for college level calculus.
Daniel peed his pants that day in lecture.