Remembering Steve Zeluck

Against the Current, No. 1, January/February 1986

Barbara Zeluck

MANY THANKS for the In Memoriam section in the last issue (Changes) devoted to (my husband) Steve Zeluck. I was, however, disappointed that you did not include the sections of an unsolicited letter from Mar&tin Brock, a 1967-68 student in Steve’s 8th grade honors science class (at Albert Leonard Junior High School in New Rochelle), that were read at the meeting in New York. I’d like to ask that you print them, since they present a side of Steve that comrades had no opportunity to see. “It was with great sadness that I read of the death of Steve Zeluck last week in our local paper. He was one of the greatest teachers I have ever had. He had a profound effect on my development and to this day I have not been able to fully assess its magnitude ….

“To this very day I employ the concepts he taught. I still analyze and understand lenses and optics by the means and examples he gave. I will always remember him conveying the import of such general concepts as ‘necessary but not sufficient.’ I will always remember the fervor with which he would teach us to question our fundamental, underlying assumptions. As a mathematician myself (having graduated MIT), I know how crucial these ideas are. There are many more examples I could give.

“One virtue I so admired in Mr. Zeluck was the courage he had in sticking with his convictions and following them through to completion as only a true believer would. I also admired his great intellectual courage. This he showed by readily admitting when a current theory was wrong and that we had better consider a new one. Many times in class he would purposely teach us an incorrect (but generally useful) theory so that later an inconsistency would appear-signaling that a theoretical redress was in order. How wonderful! How precisely this imitates the real process of theoretical research! Not to mention how clearly this shows how important it is to question our fundamental assumptions and how ready we should always be to replace them with new ones.

“One thing I have reflected on many times was the ‘magic’ Mr. Zeluck performed in teaching. He was able to communicate so perfectly many concepts be they subtle or concrete, deep or shallow. I often wondered how he was able to achieve this. Few other teachers I know of were capable of such elucidation. Few other teachers made such a difference. Mr. Zeluck was one of those rare teachers that really taught you how to think.”

Many thanks.

January-February 1986, ATC 1

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