Educational Experiences that Change Lives

Source: NYTimes, Apr 2012

Saturday Morning at the Museum
By MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, Mayor, New York City

When I was growing up, Saturday mornings meant one thing only to me: a trip to the Boston Museum of Science. I loved science — still do — and there was nowhere else I’d rather be. The museum’s instructors would give these fascinating two-hour lectures and demonstrate the laws of physics using hands-on experiments. They would also quiz us on the museum’s exhibits, and all the kids would try to show off by having every answer. Those visits to the museum stretched my mind in ways that my schoolwork didn’t. They taught me to listen, question, test and analyze. Figuring out how things work — and how they can work better — is what led me to become an engineer, a technology entrepreneur, a philanthropist and a mayor. I guess I can count my lucky stars that there were no Saturday morning cartoons when I was kid.

A Liberal Nun in Baghdad
By ZAHA HADID, architect

The teachers who taught sciences in the school I went to when I was growing up in Baghdad were all from the university, and so the levels of the science courses were really incredible. The headmistress, who was a nun, was very interested in the education of women, so in a way she was a kind of pioneer in that part of the world. We were all these girls from different religions — Muslim, Christian, Jewish — we had no ideas what our religions were.

In Mrs. Crowell’s Library
By JUNOT DIAZ, author

I’m with Borges in imagining Paradise as “a kind of library.” Where instead of angels there will be a corps of excellent librarians.

The Secret Mansion
By GEORGE SAUNDERS, author

“Here’s something interesting,” he says to his friends. “I won’t tell you who wrote it. But see if you can guess.”

Then he reads: “Even as the stars are aloft, so too may we, rending unto Zeus, saying nay to Mordor, rise above the blackened plain of the Timid, exalting the stars, even unto the generation.”

A respectful silence.

“Shakespeare?” someone says.

“Kahlil Gibran?” someone else says.

“Lincoln?”

“Actually,” Mr. Lindbloom says. “This was written by one of my students.”

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