Yesterday I had the privilege and the pleasure of teaching cosmology to some of the A-Level Physics students at the Maria Fidelis Convent School in London, where they are justly proud of their science curriculum.
Despite the weird (to me) habit of calling all the adults “Sir” or “Miss” and the very Catholic (but not catholic!) school motto, “Growing together though Christ with courage confidence and dignity” it was great to see a group of smart and motivated students who seemed more than happy to learn and to think. I admit to being chagrined to remember that, well, appearances can be deceiving: the two boys in the class rolled in late, having come from lessons a few blocks away, and gave a little stick to their teacher when she chided them for it. Uh oh, I thought, this could be a tough crowd. But I should have remembered (having been one) that all adolescent males look like disaffected slackers no matter what’s going on underneath. Once we started actually talking about astrophysics and cosmology, their minds were engaged, despite their hoodies and their slouches. The girls were slightly harder to bring out of their shells, but they too were happy to participate and, indeed, to show off what they could do.
So thanks to all of the students (even if I didn’t teach them to make salad), to their teacher, Miss Innocent Mutumba, and to everyone else that I met there.