Friday, July 28th, 8:00pm–9:30pm
Fed Hall, University of Waterloo
Bridges Conference participants only

Structure—an allegory


The characters in an allegory are not real, but they are all the more real for that.  They are the selves that stay hidden inside, deep at the core, the selves we fear, the selves we love, the selves we hide from others.  Their behaviour is whimsical, juvenile, even ridiculous, but their interactions structure our lives and give it meaning, the meaning we strive for, but can never quite grasp.  That structure rules but does not dictate. It is powerful enough to make purpose out of randomness, but remains nevertheless elusive, so that the allegory itself is the only truth that remains. 

In this production, Peter and Judy explore the shapes of their inner selves as artists, scientists, teachers, and human beings.  The allegorical framework allows them to express serious ideas and feelings that would otherwise be inaccessible.  An early version of this production was staged in 2014 for the Bridge’s Lecture Series at St Jerome’s University here in Waterloo.  In Spring 2016 it was performed at the 40th anniversary meeting of the Canadian Math Education Forum in Kingston Ontario. 

Performers

Peter Taylor (Rabbit)

Peter Taylor is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen’s University, cross-appointed to the Department of Biology and the Faculty of Education. His areas of research are evolutionary game theory and the secondary mathematics curriculum. He is a 3M Fellow, a Fellow of the Fields Institute and is past Chair of the Education Committee of the Canadian Mathematical Society. He has done extensive curriculum writing with the Ontario Ministry of Education and these days is spending time in the high school classroom.

Peter is a deep introvert. When young this made his social life difficult and he turned to mathematics both for comfort and the cultivation of self-confidence. In later life he developed strategies to appear outgoing and he learned to accept, and perhaps even celebrate, a divided self. But such compromise comes at a cost of integrity––the whole is more than the sum of its parts. That is, when the parts are at odds, the whole can fail to act.

Judy Wearing (Squirrel)

Judy Wearing is a PhD student in Education at Queen’s, where she studies the relationship between creativity, emotion, and pedagogy from a behavioural ecology pespective. She has degrees in biology from Guelph and Oxford, and has worked as director for not-for-profit education agencies, and as an editor for educational publishing companies. She is the author of non-fiction books for children and the popular science title Edison’s Concrete Piano. Her latest book about body hair will be released by the University of Chicago Press in 2018.

Judy is deeply curious. She remembers experiencing this curiosity as a child as an itch in the brain, almost painful. Her chief talents are learning and generating ideas – neither of which have proved particularly profitable. She feels like she lives life on the fringe, never fitting in. On her deathbed, she’s much more likely to regret what she’s done than what she has not. She’s much cheerier than this description suggests.