Our place in the universe

The Year of Miss Agnes

The Year of Miss Agnes

One of my favourite children’s books is The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill, the story of an English teacher who goes to the Alaskan bush to teach in a one-room schoolhouse in the late 1940s.

Miss Agnes is a very unconventional teacher (she wears pants!) with very unorthodox methods; she throws away the grade book, saying that she doesn’t ‘believe in grades’ and she thinks the Dick and Jane books are not very good.  Although the story takes place in a classroom, many of her ideas and methods will strike a chord with home schoolers.

The story is narrated by one of the students, Fred (Frederika).  At one point in the story, after Miss Agnes orders a microscope for them, Fred says:

With Miss Agnes the world got bigger and then it got smaller. We used to think we were something, but then she told us all the things that were bigger than us, the universe and all that, and then all the things that were smaller. Too small to even see. So people were sort of in between, not big or small, just in between. That was a really interesting thing to think about.[emphasis added]

I was reminded of this passage today as I looked at this wonderful interactive site that shows the scale of the universe.  If you, like me, ever wondered just how ‘in between’ we humans are in the scale of things, this will show you.

DO take a look at that site and play around with the button at the bottom of the screen.  Slide it up and down.

I am in awe.


 

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Posted on Saturday, August 13th, 2011, in Books, Science. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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