Two days after news came through of the death of esteemed physicist and author Stephen Hawking, I presented the Australian Scholarship Group’s National Excellence in Teaching Awards. Hawking’s passing last week affected me deeply and I posted a tweet that his death was a tremor in the force. It wasn’t about the answers, it was about the questions and he demonstrated that learning is about thinking not just knowing.
I used Hawking’s life and legacy in my address to NEiTA recipients. The education community has a lot to learn from Stephen Hawking. He was not only a brilliant mind and teacher but someone who remained deeply curious throughout his life. Hawking distilled the complex into the simple and showed how one could overcome a disability. In doing so, he gained a legion of fans and admirers. What I loved most was that he never gave up asking ‘how’ and ‘why’. That insatiable curiosity inspired him until the end.
My favourite Hawking quote is this:
If we want every child to look up and never give up, then we need teachers who approach their work in the same way as Hawking – with imagination, grit and curiosity.
Great teachers are stars in a child’s universe. Like Hawking, their impact on lives shines bright.