Monday, July 28, 2014

Swapping a Toga for a Flight Suit

In the first century A.D., Tertullian famously asked, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"  It was a question to expose what he saw as the irreconcilability of logic and faith.  Many would ask a similar question with regard to me and the week I spent at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  What has a Latin teacher to do with Space Camp?  The answer is everything, for if teaching Classics has taught me anything, it is that true education knows no boundaries.  It is about the exploration of the glories and wonders of creation, and few things usher us into those glories and wonders like our human achievements in space.  So let's see just what got this toga-wearer to don a flight suit!

Was it the chance to work with the best teachers from around the country and all over the world?

Was it pushing myself in leadership training and learning to survive a helicopter crash in water?

Was it learning to build ablative shielding and a lunar lander...for an egg?


Could it have been building and launching a rocket?  Yeah, that's right, a rocket!

 Maybe it was training in the multi-axis trainer and the 1/6 gravity chair...

or preparing for shuttle and lunar base missions...

or meeting NASA legends Homer Hickam and Ed Buckbee?

Actually, it was this.

I was on Team Destiny, comprised of eleven other State Teachers of the Year, a professor from Greece, and a principal from Australia.  We shared all the experiences depicted in these pictures and much, much more.  We breathed stardust for a week and were reminded of just what can happen when human beings push the edge of the envelope to create something new to explore the truly unknown.

And what has all that to do with a Latin teacher?  In the first century B.C., Cicero wrote,

Ex quo omnia mihi contemplanti praeclara cetera et mirabilia videbantur.  Erant autem eae stellae, quas numquam ex hoc loco vidimus, et eae magnitudines omnium, quas esse numquam suspicati sumus.  (De Re Publica 6.16)

"As I gazed at them from this point, all the other heavenly bodies seemed brilliant and amazing.  And there were stars that we have never seen from earth, and the sheer numbers of them all were such as we have never imagined."

What the space race of the mid-twentieth century achieved and what NASA and space agencies around the world are attempting today is simply the next step in the shared journey of discovery, and because this is the definition of education, it has everything to do with me, for I am a teacher.

1 comment:

  1. A fabulous recount with pictures of what was clearly a life changing experience for all in Team Destiny. We had certainly heard how much it meant to our Aussie educator Kate, so how wonderful that her energy, enthusiasm and learning were replicatdd so many times over to create waves across...the galaxy!


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