“Striking many” and “wishing death to some” still allows time for plenty of math and science

Mathematicians and scientists are often undeservedly assigned nerdy, frail, reputations, and I fear that this perception may steer some students away from these disciplines in school. As a teacher, it is my job to ensure that math and science are celebrated to the same degree as the arts, if not more. If we want to produce more mathematicians and scientists in this country, we must find ways of letting students know that the sciences are not reserved for quiet, studious, industrious children.


Enter Lists of Note, one of my favorite new websites. Last week they posted a list of Isaac Newton’s sins that will serve to assure students that mathematicians and scientists come in many forms:

In 1662, at which point he was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, 19-year-old Isaac Newton wrote, in his notebook, the following list of 57 sins he had recently committed — 48 before Whitsunday, and 9 since. It makes for fascinating reading.

I’ll leave you to visit the site and peruse the list yourself, but here are a few of my favorites that will convince even the most rough-and-tumble boys that discovering the secrets of the universe is not beyond their grasp.

Threatning my father and mother Smith to burne them and the house over them

Wishing death and hoping it to some

Striking many

Stealing cherry cobs from Eduard Storer and denying that I did so

Punching my sister

Beating Arthur Storer.

Apparently Newton has a serious beef with the Storer family.