John Ross: The Teacher
By John David Velarde, AKA Issac Stacey
NOTE TO Mike Esper:
The information I sent you regarding John Ross was excerpted from Anthology: John David Velarde – Part I which details the histories of the songs I wrote from 1968 to 1978. As such, the topics related John Ross with regard to his influence on me as a song writer. I realized the view was myopic, giving you the impression that John Ross threw parties, gave his students beer and Wolfe Brother Stogies and played records – in short that he was a party animal -which he was.
What those excerpts did not reveal was John Ross's nature as a teacher.
This is my attempt to do just that.
John Ross excelled as a math teacher as he did in everything he attempted. It was not his nature to do anything half-heartedly.
I can write from experience because John Ross was the first math teacher to realize I had a high aptitude for mathematics. Once he realized I was able and eager to absorb the secrets of mathematical languages he took me aside and gave me three Freshman college level books.
As he handed by a copy of “An Introduction To Boolean Logic” he said, “If you want to learn how to think mathematically, you need to learn how to think in strict logical terms. This will get you started.”
As he handed me a copy of “Cartesian Algebra” he said, “You already know most of what's in here, but you need to strengthen your understanding of the Cartesian coordinate system in order to really be able to grasp the fundamentals of calculus. The stronger your foundation the easier it will be to understand the principles Newton used to create Calculus.”
As he handed me a copy of “An introduction to Calculus” he said, “Don't wait until you finish the others to start getting into Calculus. You already have a firm grip on basic math. Let me know when you run into something you don't understand and I'll point you to the areas in the other two books that will clarify the problem for you.”
Then he made me take my school seat, you know the kind with the desk top that raised up so you can store books under the lid, and had me move it into the far corner of the room. “He said, “ Go as slow or as fast as you want. You're on your own.”
And that's the way it was for my Junior and Senior year under John Ross.
I enrolled in Colorado State University in 1964.
During the first day's class in Logic I, the professor said, “I always give my students a chance to Ace the course by presenting them with a classic problem. Anyone who can prove that One plus One will always only equal Two will get an automatic “A” and he or she will never have to attend this class again. In all the years I've taught this course, not one student has been able to do it.”
Well, I saw that as a challenge and set about to get the automatic “A”. I solved the problem by proving that the sum of all other numbers are NOT equal to two and therefore the only possible numbers whose sum is two is One Plus One! I got the “A”.
That was the kind of teacher John Ross was!
I later taught myself to program computers, started ASPEN Software, INC. and have become an expert in the FoxPro Object oriented language. Had John not insisted I master Boolean Logic, I could never have mastered any computer language as quickly as I did. I have run my own home based business using computer programs I wrote in FoxPro for the past 12 years. That is John's Legacy!
Also, when my wife and I home-schooled our children, I had my wife use the same principles John Ross used to teach me to teach our children. My son Vincent was one of six students in the entire state of Arizona to score a 100% on the Mathematics portion of the AIMs test! He now enjoys a scholarship to study engineering at ASU. That is also John Ross's legacy!
I am certain there are many others who have similar testimonies as to how John Ross effected their lives. When I wrote, in my Anthology: John David Velarde – Part I that “John Ross was the most influential man in my life, bar none,” I was not speaking hyperbolically, to use a mathematical term that has been adapted to common use to mean to exaggerate for effect. Had John Ross not come into my life I have no idea what kind of person I would now be or what kind of life I would have led. As it was, his introducing me to Bob Dylan gave me the courage to go to New York City, and then across the country in search of a career in music. His giving me a free hand to explore the mystical realms of higher mathematics when everyone else was busy learning basic math has allowed me to live a freer life, a fuller life, and a mor