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Suzanne Buchholz, Reporter
Professor Larry Wiseman is passionate about math but has many interests outside of the classroom. Among his various hobbies are traveling, performing music and enjoying the arts.
Born in Tacoma, Wash., Wiseman hadn’t ventured outside the West Coast until he graduated high school. This changed when he turned 18 and traveled to Europe with the Tacoma Youth Symphony, in which he was a French horn player. This was his first trip outside of North America. He had several new experiences, and one that stands out to him was performing in Mozart’s birthplace.
“Our last performance, which I think was actually our strongest performance, or at least mine was in Salzburg, and we were playing some Mozart there,” Wiseman said. “Playing Mozart in Salzburg, that really meant a lot to me. Mozart was such a genius and he brought so much to the world that I’m so grateful for.”
Since then, Wiseman has traveled back to Europe as well as to Japan and China on different occasions. He said one part of traveling he enjoys is connecting with people.
“Traveling on my own, I really liked how in Europe, a lot of the public transportation have seats facing each other, kind of in groups,” Wiseman said. “It just naturally creates situations to talk if people around you feel like it, so I had some really interesting conversations with people while traveling.”
Wiseman attended Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio and then the University of Washington, declaring many majors such as economics, history and music. He said he didn’t have a clear idea at first of what his career goals would be but wanted to expand his view of the world and initially wanted to be involved in music.
Wiseman earned his first undergraduate degree in history and his second in math, with a tentative goal of teaching. He worked as a one-on-one tutor before becoming a teaching assistant for math.
“The first time I walked in a classroom, I just realized (that) even people I didn’t know, I just cared about them,” Wiseman said. “I wanted to bring good aspects of myself forward and acknowledge that they worked hard to gain an understanding.”
Wiseman taught classes at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, Green River College and Tacoma Community College before accepting a full-time position at Pierce College Puyallup. He said teaching is challenging because students don’t always have the same level of understanding on a concept and must be taught in a way that’s easily understood, but the chance to connect with students and help them succeed is enjoyable.
Wiseman said he’s loved math since he was a child. He said he liked the challenge and feeling of satisfaction when figuring out the solution to a difficult problem.
“I didn’t really think about it, why I love math, I just did,” Wiseman said. “And then later on I started thinking about why I loved it from that early age and I think it’s something about just liking to see relations of things. But also it was fun for me, it was kind of like a prominent challenge.”
Wiseman also said he thought of math as one of humanity’s greatest achievements, as it allows one to be able to look deeper into the universe from a technological perspective.
“It’s a tremendous achievement in terms of gaining insight into the structure of the universe,” Wiseman said. “We could have science without mathematics in a sense that you could have the scientific method where you’re testing hypothesis based on evidence but without the mathematics to quantify that and see relationships, especially relationships between different variables, science would be so impoverished it would be virtually unrecognizable.”
When he’s not teaching, Wiseman likes partaking in other hobbies. He recently started participating in triathlons because he likes to exercise. He feels they help him focus and connect with nature. He’s also currently a member of the chamber choir at Pierce and the choral union at Pacific Lutheran University. He takes part in the arts whenever possible by going to performances and museums.
“I feel like (art) can deepen you,” Wiseman said. “It can lead you to see things or open your eyes in ways you didn’t before. Not that it automatically does that, I just think that it can and I really value that as well as just loving it.” [/responsivevoice]
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