What is the right answer?



In 1975 (maybe 74 the memory isn’t as clear now as it used to be) we were at Boy Scout Camp and watched Skylab go overhead every night. It was an amazing concept to us, watching a spaceship that we put there circle the earth again and again. Every night as it got dark we would scan the heavens (based on the table the newspaper had provided us as to when “Skylab” should be over our heads.

Years later I involved my class in the spacelab programs submitting experiment ideas to the NASA boards every year for inclusion on the space shuttle. My class was watching when Challenger blew up. I was in the back of the room and couldn’t turn off the television in time. I had to send home a note of explanation to the parents as to why I had failed to turn off the television in the middle of a routine shuttle launch to prevent their children from seeing the horrible explosion.

What is the right answer?

I am still confused. Partly that is why I left education, I just didn’t understand anymore. Teaching is about showing both sides of a problem so that the learner can make up their mind. It is challenging not to share your opinion about the situation so that the students can give and develop their own opinion.

In the end that day Challenger blew up was the beginning of the end for me as a teacher.

I didn’t feel the way I felt that day again until September 11, 2001 sitting in an empty office in Chicago Illinois watching the two towers collapse to the ground.


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