Taking a view from the cosmos…


Some days we find ourselves swirling amid epiphanies, momentary insights, or revealed truths. We see a resistant student suddenly proclaiming her grasp of a concept that had eluded both her and her classmates. We catch a parent recognizing his child’s newfound successes. We discover that our principal anticipated our plan to improve our team. These moments also happen in unlikely places, in the middle of the night, in the shower, on a walk, when reading, or simply sitting still.

It happened to me one summer morning at chapel on Star Island. Brian Swimme, cosmologist and chaplain at a conference, shared a discovery by astronomers who had seen a spiral galaxy (a galaxy with one center alive with active stars) coming into contact with an elliptical galaxy (a galaxy with two foci stuck inside itself with no active stars) and bringing it to life! I do not remember the rest of Brian’s talk, because I was immersed in imagining the idea of teachers as spiral galaxies called to bring life to children.

Swimme’s metaphor offers us the chance not only to see ourselves as activating an engaged and curious life but also of knowing and understanding the life we can bring to others. As adults and teachers, we need to know who we are and to become conscious of our mission. We need to accept the realities before us and seek possibilities for transforming them into the greater good. We need, in the words of a colleague, Stacey Ake, “to be icons of the future possibility of living and empowering life.” We can, if we choose, to become spiral galaxies and breathe life into our students.

Does this metaphor work for you?


Image source: en.wikipedia.org.jpg

For more on this crucial issue see Chapter 19 “Invoke the Cosmos” in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Middle-Room-Frank-Thoms/dp/0615358918.