Humble but Timely Origins
Born in 1979, my first “public” memory was watching the Berlin Wall come down on TV with my dad in a hotel room somewhere in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia. Journalist Thomas Friedman lists the fall of the Berlin Wall as the first of ten “flatteners” that opened the world up to a global economy and a global communication platform — the modern Tower of Babel — and I was just a child when it was all starting!
I hail from a small agricultural town in southwest Georgia, named Albany, the “Pecan Capital of the World.” The son of two college professors, I was reading before kindergarten, was labeled “gifted” from then on, and was campaigning for George H.W. Bush by middle school! In high school I entered the private school arena, attending an expensive prep school named Deerfield-Windsor School on an academic scholarship. At Deerfield I enjoyed the “nerdier” activities — math team, knowledge bowl, and literary team, for example, though I also played soccer and tennis on the varsity teams.
Learning the Socratic Method and Learning About the World
In 1998 I enrolled at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. My main concern at the time was, “Do they have an Ayn Rand club?,” as I was very much into Rand’s writings at that time, after my dad had given me his beat-up old copy of The Fountainhead during my senior year in high school.
In 2001 I took a year off from St. John’s and traveled to La Antigua, Guatemala, where my dad had some personal friends and contacts developed through his academic and military career in Latin American studies. I attended two Spanish-language immersion schools — La Union, and PROBIGUA (Library Project of Guatemala), for a total of eight weeks, during which time I developed the tools that would eventually help me to become fluent in spoken and written Spanish.
A Passion for Teaching and Tutoring
In 2003 I graduated from St. John’s College, Annapolis, earning an Award for Community Service in the city of Annapolis — mainly consisting of after-school tutoring for inner-city youth in grades K-12.
In 2004 I began studies in math education leading toward a Student Teaching experience in Georgia — middle grades math. After my Student Teaching and Observation in a public school in Columbus, Georgia, I worked privately for Education and Guidance Services in Columbus, an excellent tutoring service and SACS-accredited high school under the able direction of Mrs. Sally Bork Lasseter.
Mrs. Lasseter became my first and greatest mentor and role model in how to inspire students from all walks of life in how to learn, even when the subject (math, for example) at first seems boring or irrelevant.
To this day I remain interested in the issue of how to inspire and motivate young people to learn — whether it be formal mathematics for school, how to turn random scribblings on paper into good artwork, or how to play the guitar for fun.
What Education is About For Me
I believe in a whole-person approach to education — education is about values and how to live one’s life with openness, honesty, and a sense of intellectual adventure. It is also about how to think rationally and coherently about particular problems, a much-needed skill in today’s world of soundbytes and popularity contests. Finally, education involves familiarity with specific skill sets and study habits in specific subjects.
I have named this blog “Socratic Questions” because I believe that the highest goal of education is to kindle that innate fire that resides in each person and represents the desire to ask the best questions possible.