Translation: If you want things to change, get your ass off the couch and do the work.
That’s what Marie did. In a world full of men unwilling to accept a woman, an atheist, and a person who followed her heart, she had to work her ass off to overcome the sexism and xenophobia of her times.
In 1911, just before receiving her Nobel Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences asked Marie not to come to Stockholm, so King Gustav V would not be subjected to shaking hands with an adulteress.
Of course, she went to accept the award in person. That was her second Nobel. She was the first ever woman to receive one, and the first ever person to receive two. She discovered radium and polonium and coined the term radioactivity. She earned many prestigious awards, honors, and posts for her work.
Ultimately, her work killed her. But before she died of cancer at 66, she changed the world. For women, for men, for all of us. And the way she did it inspires.
You see, Marie didn’t just write a bunch of papers. She worked to apply what she learned to help humanity. She did not seek patents and recognition. Rather, she used her discoveries and knowledge to invent the first ever portable X-Ray machines. The Little Curies were used to diagnose over a million soldiers during World War I. Later, she raised money to build hospitals to use her discoveries to provide advanced treatments to patients. Today, we cure cancer and other illnesses thanks to Marie’s work.
So What Does Marie Curie Have To Do With Keeping It Real In Education?
To me, everything. Marie understood that her work was greater than herself and she always saw it as more important than any personal achievement. She faced criticism and prejudice. She persevered. The work was too important not to and it did not matter what anyone else said.
I think the work educators do is just as important. We can’t keep shying away from the difficult conversations, hard feelings,and tough decisions. I really believe it is the only real way toward meaningful and sustainable progress.
Beautiful words and flipping the script every time negative feelings surface is inspiring, but not always helpful. It is the kind of an approach that invalidates tough feelings our kids and we ourselves experience because we’re human. Our humanness requires we process them, not simply shove them aside and immediately replace with growth-mindset. That’s not real. Not always.
And while Marie Curie is my hero and compatriot, I would never presume to fill her shoes. I am not the champion for humanity she was, just a teacher pushing aside anxiety and introversion to muster courage to speak up and fight for what I believe.
That involves doing things I’m not always comfortable doing. Public speaking? Check. So, I started a podcast. Writing is one thing. This… the podcast… I feel naked. Here it is: