Forget about isosceles triangles and the Pythagorean Theorem—they're square. The hottest trend in high-school math these days is deometry, the study of how the Creator created points, lines, angles, shapes and proofs. While critics decry the entry of religion into math class, fans of the new teaching method maintain that by giving God a primary role in geometry and other fields of mathematics, they are merely restoring balance to an area that has sought to remove all vestiges of religion from the public polygon.
'On the fourth day God created the triangle'
By Cole Walters
TOPEKA, KS—It's back to school time and for Topeka High School freshmen that means geometry, a form of mathematics that has bedeviled high-school students since the beginning of time. But this year, the freshman class will be introduced to something different: deometry, the study of how the Creator created points, lines, angles, shapes and proofs.
Math for Deommies
First on the Deometry 101 agenda: understanding what deometry means. While geometry comes from two Greek words: 'geo' meaning 'earth' and 'metron' meaning 'measure,' the new class incorporates a Latin root, 'deo,' meaning God. "The problem we ran into is that you can't measure the earth without crediting God with having created it," explains Topeka High math teacher and golf coach Mac Bresnahan.
Creating the earth, inventing the circle
While Mr. Bresnahan has been teaching geometry at the school for nearly 30 years, he notes that he had become increasingly frustrated with a field that all but ignored the role of a Creator. "I'd be teaching the kids how to find the center of a circle using a compass and somebody would raise their hand and ask 'well who invented the circle?'" Mr. Bresnahan recalls. "I'd want to tell the truth, that it was God, but that's against Topeka High policy."
Religion and the public polygon
But Topeka High policy has changed thanks to a new push by conservative Christian members of the Kansas school board to get His role recognized throughout the K-12 curriculum, from science classes that incorporate Intelligent Design, to deometry, to 'deoconomics,' the study of the allocation of scarce resources that assumes that God is the "invisible hand" that powers the motor of the US economy. The school board is also reportedly considering a measure that would allow high school seniors to substitute Bible study for driver education classes.
Rethinking the Pythagorean Theorem
For the freshmen lucky enough to take Deometry 101 with Mr. Bresnahan, scoring a good grade depends on their ability to comprehend God's role as creator of points, lines, angles and shapes. Later in the semester, for example, Mr. Bresnahan plans to introduce the Pythagorean Theorem—Pythagoras' 2000-year-old discovery about the relationship among the squares on the sides of a right triangle—but with a twist. Whereas students in the past students would have used Pythagoras' Theorem to solve problems involving right triangles, now they'll learn something more basic: that God created the triangle, the leg and the hypotenuse.
"The classic way of teaching Pythagoras is to say that a^2 + b^2 = c^2 and have students solve for 'c,'" explains Bresnahan. "Now we're teaching students something much more essential: how to solve for 'G.'"
In what other high school courses should His role be emphasized? Talk back to Cole Walters.