Most people are familiar with doctors’ “Hippocratic Oath”:
First, do no harm.
Yes, this aphorism does not appear in the Hippocratic Oath, which is also probably not Hippocrates’. And, yes, the meaning of and fealty to this statement are not nearly so straight-forward. Still, the statement gives a beautifully clear and human principle, a guide on how to think about the difficult work of treating a person in one’s care.
Which brings us to mathematics. We feel that mathematics teachers need a similar guiding light, the Mathematic Oath:*
First, tell no lies.
As with the doctors’ oath, the implications of the Mathematic Oath are not obvious, respecting the oath is not always so simple. But it is a light, showing us the way. And it also tells us the wrong way: if you are a mathematics teacher and you are not telling your students the truth, then you are doing wrong.
*) Yes, it is an oath for all teachers.