Knowledge of the Classics of Western Civilization helps you to grasp the origins and ancestry of many archetypal ideas in culture and literature through the centuries. Although many of the works of literature in question are ancient, they depict truths about the human condition which seem to transcend time. My education from high school onward has included a solid grounding in the Classics of Western Civilization, including such authors as Homer, Virgil, Boethius, Augustine, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, the Brontes, Marx, Nietzsche, and many, many others. During college I studied how the authors sought to present themes such as man's striving to become reconciled with his own mortal nature, and the punishments for hubris. In graduate school, as a Teaching Assistant I helped undergraduate students navigate the classics, while I continued to study their impact on our culture in the History classes I took. My own studies have had a strong focus on intellectual history. I can help make the Classics interesting, and make them seem alive and relevant, rather than just fossilized material to be memorized.
As a teaching assistant at George Mason University, I frequently worked with students for whom English was not their primary language. I understand the frustrations and challenges of trying to express oneself in another language, and while helping students edit their papers I also advised them on issues of grammar and style. I draw on my teaching experience to describe ideas in diverse ways to help the individual student's comprehension. I'm willing to work as slowly or as quickly as the student needs. Also, while completing the requirements for my Ph.D., I gained extensive experience working in foreign languages myself, since I had to pass proficiency exams in German and Portuguese. Therefore, I understand the challenges of learning a new language from the point of view of both the student, and the teacher.
Good reading skills require both a strong vocabulary, and the ability to comprehend the ideas being presented. When reading, it's often important not only to understand the material, but to be able to take it in and process it quickly. Reading should not be a chore, but should be enjoyable. As an academic, I have extensive experience in reading under "high-pressure" conditions when comprehension is key, as one might experience on tests. I can work to any level and ensure that the student finds reading a rewarding, rather than frustrating, experience.
The institution where I'm pursuing my Ph.D., Catholic University, is one of the oldest institutions of Catholic higher education in the US, and was originally founded for Catholic priests, monks and nuns who were seeking advanced degrees in theology and philosophy. As well as an extensive knowledge of Catholic history, particularly from the Council of Trent to the present, I have studied the many other Christian denominations that have flourished in the US, as well as Judaism and other forms of religion and spirituality, whether Eastern or Western, that make up the diverse religious landscape in the United States. The subject of my Ph.D. dissertation, which I'm currently working on, also concerns US religious history. I have taken classes on both the theological aspects of religion, and on its more socially-directed or charitable aspects.
Good writing skills are essential, not only in school, but in every field in life. Writing allow us to present our ideas to others, to connect with others, and, when it's necessary, to debate with others. Some students may wish simply to polish their style, while others may struggle with presenting an idea that makes sense in their heads, but simply won't come out on paper. Whatever the student's level, I can assist in instilling skills that will help with both their immediate academic assignments, and in their future lives as a whole.