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“Eppur Si Muove” — And Yet It Moves

Legend has it that Galileo Galilei said this under his breath after being forced by the Inquisition to disavow his statements that the Earth moves around the Sun. (It took until 1992 for the Catholic Church to formally apologize for this, and recognize the mathematical and scientific work that Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo did to validate heliocentrism.) I don’t know if the quote is historically accurate; I imagine that the Inquisition probably did not take snide comments lightly. But I like the spirit, the sense that we all must act, at times, in self-preservation against great and ignorant powers, and that it is possible to do so without losing sight of the truth.

This is also the name of my blog because it is the motto of the high school at which I teach: Galileo Academy of Science and Technology. I teach classes within the Academy of Information Technology and I also teach AP Computer Science. The 2011-12 school year was my seventh year teaching public high school, and my fifth year teaching “technology”. In the first two years of my career I taught math (geometry, precalculus, and calculus) at a small urban charter school beset with numerous problems. I enjoy teaching computer science in San Francisco, being part of a cross-curricular collaboration, and being at a school with an academic culture.

My intention in writing this blog is to share my experiences teaching in a large, functional public high school in an urban district. I hope to connect with other teachers or prospective teachers, and share ideas about teaching, curriculum, student interactions, and technology. I put my real name on this blog because this writing represents me professionally. I welcome your comments, encouragement, disagreement, respectful debate, and discussion.

Ben Chun

5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Dan Greene / Sep 2 2007 4:15 pm

    Welcome back; it’s good to hear from you again. It’s going to be interesting to hear your impressions of such a different environment. And maybe we’ll still get the occasional mathematical posting…

  2. Alfred Thompson / Sep 2 2007 6:45 pm

    I look forward to hearing more about how this year goes. Best of luck!

  3. jd2718 / Sep 3 2007 2:05 pm

    Nice to see you back, and yet sad to see us down one math teacher. Best of luck!

  4. John Sauter / Jan 3 2008 4:32 pm

    It would seem that a school bearing his name would want to get the facts straight. While the motto is used in many places it is also just a legend. There is no historical record of Galileo ever saying such a thing. Secondly, Galileo was not required to “disavow his statements that the Earth moves around the Sun” rather he signed an affidavit that he knew that there was injunction against his publishing his opinion and yet he chose to ignore it. While a subtle distinction, it is an important one. Galileo was charged with disobedience to church authority not with teaching heresy because he claimed the earth moved around the sun. There is dispute as to whether such an injunction actually ever existed and I don’t pretend to claim the church was right in punishing Galileo. As you correctly point out John Paul II later agreed with some of Galileo’s statements on the relationship between scripture and nature which at the time caused quite a stir among the church authorities. I simply wish to correct the misconception that this whole struggle was about a backward church trying to fight against the inevitable progress of science. In fact Pope Urban VIII met regularly with Galileo and was fascinated by his ideas until Galileo foolishly choose to insult the Pope in one of his articles. So in reality mistakes were made on both sides and in the end people take what lessons they want from history regardless of what really happened.

  5. Ben Chun / Jan 4 2008 10:52 am

    Hi John Sauter, and thanks for offering your opinion. I’m certainly no expert on this subject! Are you? I hope it’s clear that I don’t represent the entire school; I’m just one teacher here. There are certainly other faculty (particularly in the history and science departments) that know a lot more about Galileo than I do. You have made a number of claims in your comment. If you’ve got any primary sources that support those claims, please post references to them so we can, as you say, get the facts straight.

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