I’m sure that many of us were saddened this morning to hear about the passing of one of the major role models of the space program, Sally Ride. Learning about Ride in school, I heard about how she broke the gender barrier by being the first American woman in space, and was the youngest astronaut to boot. Though as a student with a decided bent towards the liberal arts, I never had aspirations to join the space program, Ride’s presence in an overwhelmingly male field gave me the impression that women could reach the highest ranks in any field, and do the coolest stuff.
It wasn’t until this morning, reading articles about Ride’s life, that I realized how multifaceted she was. Though she ultimately became a scientist, Ride studied Shakespeare in college, and said that reading the Bard’s plays exercised her mind. She was a tennis star at Stanford, as well as a student of physics. A New York Times article describes how for Ride, her most influential educator turned her on not only to science, but to culture as well.
…it was at Westlake [High School] that Dr. Ride found a mentor and friend in Elizabeth
Mommaerts, a science teacher whom she described as “logic personified.” A great
enthusiast for research, Dr. Mommaerts invited her favorite students, Dr. Ride among
them, to her home to sample French food and wine and to hear stories about her life in
Though I wouldn’t suggest that we start giving them wine, I do think it is important to remember that a robust education factors in the multifaceted natures of our students. How do you encourage your students to be well-rounded, cross-curricular learners? Can you think of other opportunities for an interdisciplinary approach?