Reach for the Stars

I blogged not too long ago about allowing our kids to choose the direction they are to take in life. At the time I was referring to my son who was hoping to get the part of Shrek in his school production of “Shrek The Musical”, but it really goes deeper than that. You see, my son, David, wants to be an ASTRONAUT. For real!

This year, Canada and the entire world watched as Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. Chris became an ambassador for our country and showed the world in a way unlike any other astronaut what it is like to be in space. His twitter account was a sensation that captivated our family and my class at school.

Little did I know that David was observing Commander Hadfield’s amazing life in space, wishing that he could one day also fly into space. This is huge. David HATES heights. He doesn’t like riding roller coasters, yet he wants to be an astronaut. In fact, he wants so badly to be an astronaut that he is turning his life around to make it happen.

You see, David is a musician, just like Chris Hadfield. To see Chris record his music in space taught David that you don’t have to choose the Arts OR Sciences…YOU CAN DO BOTH! The music video that Chris recorded with Ed Robertson and the Barenaked Ladies for Music Monday is, I think, one of the defining moments in David’s decision.

Instead of spending his summer vacation having fun or getting a job to earn money for university (what I encouraged him to do), David decided that if he was serious about fulfilling his dream and becoming an astronaut, he should make sure he had all of the prerequisite courses he needed before he went into Grade 12. Unfortunately he hadn’t taken Physics in Grade 11, so his summer project became taking Physics 11 through the Abbotsford Virtual School.

So, our entire summer has been overtaken with studying Physics. It had been countless years since I took Physics, my husband had never taken Physics before, but we set out to support David through this really tough course in a very short amount of time. Disclaimer: I DO NOT RECOMMEND TAKING SUCH A DEMANDING COURSE IN THIS MANNER.

To say this summer has been a struggle is a huge understatement. Eight hours a day studying Physics is demanding no matter how brilliant you are. When you do the course in the manner that David did, you have no time to make mistakes or take extra time to learn concepts. Four days for each unit is next to no time at all! There is no margin for error.

Thankfully David has a natural ability in Sciences, so he has done really well on this course. We did call in help from others (it’s good to know a retired IB Physics teacher!) and did whatever we could to support him, but at the end of the day, David has completed a full semester course in FOUR WEEKS.

Shawn and I are so proud of David (as we are of his brother, Matthew) and are awed by the fact that he has taken this decision so seriously. Reach for the Stars, David… Dad I can’t wait to see you reach your goals (you too, Matthew)!

Edited to add: The publication date on this blog post is June 14, as that is when I had the idea to write it and wrote the first few sentences. I then left the post for a time, as I just didn’t know where the next few weeks would take us. The actual publication date was Aug. 4, 2013, after David had completed his Physics 11 course.

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13 thoughts on “Reach for the Stars

  1. When I was a little younger than David, Carl Sagan, through his books, taught me the lesson Cmdr. Hadfield taught David: Art and Science fit together and create Wonder! A while ago I wrote about the fact that I discovered the poetry of Yeats while reading one of Sagan’s books (http://behindthehedge.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/a-shout-out-to-the-planetary-society/). Everyday now in my art practice I use science and math — or maybe I’m using art in my science and math practice.

    Aim high, David! And if you need more inspiration, check out Astronaut Abby, the fifteen year old girl from Minnesota who intends to be the first human on Mars: http://astronautabby.com/

    • Thank you for your comment and links, John! You have woven beautifully together how I like to see the world. There really aren’t separate “art” and “science” strands that we should keep on separate sides of our lives, but, in fact, they should be woven together and influence each other.

    • You know, I don’t envy teenagers today. Sometimes there are so many life choices that it can be overwhelming. You can literally drown in the options. I’m just so glad that David has defined his goal and is happy pursuing it!

  2. You know, I pretty much know what you mean, but from a different perspective. When I was in high school in Colombia, a new system was being trialled, ‘diversified’ teaching, where a student would choose between being in the “Science & Maths” oriented class or the “Arts & Humanities” oriented class. To make a long story short (and thanks for giving me an idea for a post), I chose the Science & Maths path, to my teachers’ susprise! I didn’t see it as such. But it worked, in the end I got where I wanted.
    Your son’s commitment is admirable, and it’s something that’s going to help him in many ways, not just in the application of that physics or other upcoming new knowledge. It’s a lessons a life, really.
    Good on you guys! đŸ™‚

    • Thanks Luis! You know, I think it sells people short when you make them choose either Arts or Sciences. I’m so glad it worked out for you! Why can’t we be well-rounded people with interests on both areas? Sure, most of us won’t be able to combine those two as Commander Hadfield did, but at least having options to explore more than one area could probably help kids figure out where to go with their lives. Really…how many 16 year olds know what they want to do with their lives? I know I didn’t.

  3. That is so inspiring! I’m going to start college in a month and haven’t been very excited about the courses required for my degree but I’ve got to take them anyway so I might as well work hard on them and give them everything I’ve got. Thanks David!! I’m going to look for your name in 20 years on the CSA website ; D

  4. Pingback: The Power of Social Media | Searching for Sunshine

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