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Sep 05

Neil deGrasse Tyson in the School House

Posted by Lorraine Yamin in The Alumni Blog on Sep 05, 2017

Neil deGrasse Tyson in the School House

A new school year can offer feelings of hope and optimism. The nation’s current events tarnish the social backdrop against which teachers’ hopes and plan as they launch their year. As we prepare, discarding broken materials or donating unused items, moving shelving, developing lessons, we imagine the faces of the children who will cross the thresholds of our rooms and feel positive. This year, my first year teaching kindergarten, I placed a big photo of Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson in a prominent spot. Neil is looking down on my math-science-nature area (all one connected “space” to me) with the same flash of curiosity seen in the eyes of children.

When my kindergarteners ask, “Who is that?” I plan to say, “He’s my favorite superhero.” I will be intentionally sending a clear message of social and scientific justice. As the year unfolds, my aim is to leave my students with a love and admiration of Dr. Tyson. He is an incredible model for all who seek evidence of the transformative potential in teaching and learning. In my opinion, there should be posters of him in every school. In ten short months, my students will for the last time, cross the threshold as kindergarteners and I will want them to remember our classroom superhero:

            A brilliant black man who is the boss of that fabulous planetarium they have all been to at the museum with the giant dinosaurs. Superhero Tyson understands the smallest things we cannot see and the incomprehensibly massive things we cannot see. He is an expert on stardust (which is in all of our bodies) is super-fun and super-fair, can explain anything and makes great choices by thinking.

Teachers must all balance the dual realities of suffering and hope throughout the school year.  I plan to begin my school year embracing the magical thinking of kindergarteners by introducing a real-life superhero. 

tagged alumni, blog, childhood, degrasse, early, lorraine, neil, science, tyson, yamin
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