Meet Esther Dyson: Cosmonaut and an Honoree at Our Spring Benefit
We’re gearing up for our 2017 Spring Benefit where we’ll be celebrating our reaching 1 million students since our founding. We are honoring three visionaries in the field of education who have lent a tremendous amount of support toward our mission of closing the learning gap.
Meet Esther Dyson, journalist and commentator on emerging digital technology, a philanthropist and an entrepreneur through EDventure Holdings. Esther also serves on the Board of Directors of ExpandED Schools and received a completion certificate from the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.
Young Esther Dyson, a budding journalist, poses next to the family typewriter.
EXPANDED SCHOOLS: Where did you grow up?
ESTHER DYSON: Princeton, New Jersey.
ES: What was your favorite class in school and why?
ED: I liked almost everything because I loved knowing things, but I especially loved math because it was so useful. For example, when my brother and I had chicken pox, he just cried, but I took great pleasure in counting my spots every day to measure the progress of my disease. Math is just useful, whether you’re trying to manage your budget, assess a politician’s promises, chart your own productivity at work or various daily or yearly health measures. It’s something that just applies no matter what interests you.
ES: What extracurricular activity had the most impact on who you are today?
ED: I was a page at the Princeton Public Library when I was 14 and 15 - basically, the moment I was legally allowed to take the job. I had been going to the library since I could read, and I could imagine nothing more exciting than actually working there. And indeed I did love the job when I finally got old enough to do it. The first year I worked only in the kids’ section, and I pretty much knew all the authors and the different kinds of kids who would borrow those books. I also got to watch a variety of child-parent interactions: for example, the kid who just wanted to get a couple of lightweight story books, but the mother kept insisting on some heavy classics. There were kids who loved science books, and others who tended to sports or thrillers. The next year, in the adult section, it was also fun to grow familiar with a much broader array of books but less fun to watch: Grown-ups didn’t usually show up with other people who were trying to guide their reading choices!
ES: If you could give one piece of advice to a middle schooler, what would it be?
ED: Always make new mistakes! In other words, don’t be afraid to experiment and make mistakes, but make sure you learn from them.