Monday, March 10, 2014


In an NPR interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson (from Fresh Air: 2/27/2014), Dr. Tyson laid it down.  He has a Cosmos thingy that started last night, but that's only useful if you have a TV.  So, I'll be catching it on the internet once it drops.  Instead, I went fishing for some words of wisdom and found that Neil considered himself a non-standard student:
TYSON: I just know that throughout my life, at no time did any teacher ever point to me and say...he'll go far...he's someone you should watch. You know, I had some OK grades...I had some high grades in math and science, and medium grades in other subjects, and slightly lower grades in other subjects.
He also notes that students who consistently get high grades
You've got to remember, the school system is constructed to praise you if you get high grades. And if you get straight A's, you're the one that everyone puts forward, and they prognosticate that the straight-A person is the one most likely to succeed, because that's the way the school system is constructed and conceived.
But Neil really credits himself with persevering and having "grit".
And there I am, getting grades all over the place, but I...taught myself astrophotography, took classes at the American Museum of Natural History at Hayden Planetarium, [and] advanced classes for adults in modern astrophysics. I did all this, but none of that showed up as a high grade on an exam in school...Teachers [were] complaining about my social energy, as though that was something bad...

I often wonder what it would be like to get famous and then be asked back to speak at a graduation.  I might even be edgy!  However, a more noble path is available
So my elementary school wanted me to come back...I said no...I would say I am where I am today not because of what the teachers said about me or did for me, but in spite of it. And I don't think that's what you want, so I will decline.
...and some food for though about what a great teacher is:
The greatest teachers are the ones that turn a B student into an A student, or a failing student into a B student. Then let's talk about your teaching talents.
NPR agreed:
Having done some teaching, I completely agree with what you say there.
And so do I.

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