As elementary school student in the early 1970s, our schedules at Bedford Elementary (like schools everywhere likely) were periodically interrupted for full school assemblies. We’d line up our chairs in the gymnasium trying to see the activity on what then were giant TVs mounted on carts. We did this for all of the Apollo mission liftoffs, but it was the space returns that were really exciting- seeing that tiny capsule parachute down and splash in the rough seas, waiting for the hatch to open, the little heroes crawling out on rafts, and then being plucked by ladder into a helicopter.
The over-riding feeling then was one of unbridled optimism and excitement. We could send humans to the moon and back, we could do anything.
The space shuttle perhaps made space travel all a bit more mundane like just commercial airline travel (though seeing photos of the shuttle piggybacked on a transport plane was neat), and then we witnessed what happens when it went terribly wrong.
I thought that was nostalgia and lost until a guitar playing tweeting Canadian showed the world how to be part of an adventure.
How sadly strange and unique does it seem to find a public figure who inspires, yet is humble, has fun, and lights that spirit of optimism. It does not happen in politics, our sports figures and pop culture celebrities ring more as ego focused money chasers. Why are there so few who humbly inspire by example?
If there is ever a place for people to emulate this approach, it is in the classroom- be it a room or online. Good teachers do this all the time, with no or little fanfare. When they act human (faults and all), humble, when they reach out and contact and respond to others. We need a bit more space oddity in many corners of society, not just NASA.
There’s a lot we can learn from Commander Hadfield- let me be in a long line of people to thank him for keeping the optimism light on.
Now let’s get our act together and go to Mars. And beyond.