Hi, my name is Brendan. I am a high school teacher in Fairfax, Virginia.
From 1997 - 2001 I did my undergraduate coursework at St. John's College, a small liberal-arts school with twin campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe, New Mexico. (I spent two years at each campus.) St. John's is a unique school that follows what is sometimes called the "Great Books" program. All classes are discussion-based, and students work their way through source texts that have laid the foundation of modern culture - works of philosophy, literature, math, science, and economics. In math classes, for example, freshmen begin by reading Euclid and finish as seniors with Einstein and quantum physicists like Feynman. The discussions are supplemented by a heavy load of essay-writing, culminating in a senior thesis upon which students are publicly examined by a panel of three faculty members. (My senior essay was on Shakespeare's Hamlet.) While at St. John's I also studied Greek and French, and worked as tutor with children who were struggling in the public school system.
In 2003 I served for six months as a volunteer English teacher in rural Guinea, West Africa. During this time I polished my French and learned to adjust my teaching style to larger groups of people. In 2005 I moved to Australia, motivated both by a love of traveling and by the idea that since I intended to study International Relations, my education might be enhanced by living overseas. While writing my Masters thesis I worked as a private tutor, coaching fellow students in academic composition, English, and International Relations subjects. I also served as a guest lecturer and tutor in digital photography in the university's joint undergraduate/postgraduate photography class.
My interests are wide-ranging and I have some thoughts of pursuing another Masters (perhaps in anthropology) before going on to the doctorate level, but only time will tell which course is best.
I have always enjoyed teaching and my philosophy is rooted in two ideas: that anyone can learn anything, if it is taught properly; and that no two people learn exactly the same way. Most students who struggle with a subject struggle not because of a lack of intelligence, but because their minds are as unique as their personalities, and require unique attention. My personal strengths are an ability to focus on both the big picture and the specific details of a problem at the same time; a broad range of knowledge that allows me to think in a cross-disciplinary manner; and an attention to the specific needs of students. I understand that the requirements of students and the requirements of teachers and tests are not always exactly the same - sometimes to learn is one thing, and to demonstrate learning is another. But I also believe that with time and attention that gap can be bridged, and that any student can do well in any educational setting.
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