In some sense, this was the shortest visit to a museum ever. I had half-an-hour for this bounty of different instruments from all epochs of science since the 16th century, concentrated in a cellar somewhere on the premises of the University of Padova, in Galileo Galilei’s town. Thankfully, I had a wonderful guide.
In addition, it does not take a lot of time to appreciate an idea when it comes to you.
As you may have noticed, I am a sucker for those thoughts which linger in the background, always being there, waiting to be said out loud by someone banging the palm of her hand against the forehead.
Why haven’t I been thinking about this before?
Of course, I have not. And, of course, the thought was there all along.
My guide patiently explained to me the origin of the oldest instruments in the collection of the Museum of the History of Physics. They were built for teaching. Simple as that. The little steam engine, the telescopes, the multitude of geometrical appliances, even the Zamboni pendulum.
You show them something that intrigues them, my guide continued, you make them wonder. Then you teach and show it again. Appreciation for nature grows and learning happens in the 16th century as well as now.
Teaching is not a mystery. They knew how to teach back then. They knew that science can be one of the most intriguing subjects to teach once you get to the point of understanding just how beautiful nature really is.
They still know how to teach today, if you would let them. You do know how to teach, if you would let yourself, teacher!