Brian is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Washington, specializing in the History of Science. He received his BS in Biology from the University of Michigan and an MA in the History of Science from Oregon State University. He has worked as a teacher and teaching assistant at UW. He has had articles published in Scientia Canadensis and Endeavour, and is the recipient of numerous academic fellowships. When he is not madly writing his dissertation or looking for creative ways not to write it, he enjoys cooking, urban exploration, reading everything he can about everything (and only partly succeeding), and finding order amid chaos. Brian’s wide-ranging curiosity is something that informs his tutoring and in turn motivates him to bring out the curiosity in each student. The Society for the History of Natural History once declared Brian one of the world’s leading historians of science, a label he heartily embraces.
Tutoring Subjects: History, Study Skills, English, Reading, Writing, Biology
Test Prep: SAT II History (US, European, and World), Literature
Students: K – Adult
Brian’s Teaching Philosophy:
I view learning as, fundamentally, a process of discovery. Students have particular interests and talents that they begin to uncover and develop over the course of their education. My role as a tutor is to serve as a guide in this journey. Putting students at the center of their own education makes for a much more satisfying educational experience and helps ensure that what students have learned stays with them. Students have significant ability to teach themselves by bringing forth new ideas about and interpretations of the material they’re learning.
It’s important for me to establish a good rapport with a student early on. I start out by giving students space to articulate, in their own words, both what they enjoy about learning and what is frustrating them. Out of these discussions, we can work together to identify short-term and long-term goals, and these goals can change in response to the students’ discoveries that they make over time. We can then move on to more specific discussions and activities. I endeavor, at every tutoring session, to help students arrive at their own understanding of the material that they’re learning. This means that I not only focus on content, but also on more general writing and study skills that students can apply in a number of ways and with respect to a number of subjects. I also highlight students’ accomplishments as we go along; it’s not unusual, in my experience, for students to find that they’ve actually learned much more than they originally thought after starting a new subject or new topic. Different students also have different learning styles, and I adapt my tutoring based on how students engage with their course material; some students, for example, may respond to a step-by-step method when figuring out how to write a history essay, while others prefer a looser, more conversational approach.
In the end, I believe I’ve succeeded as a tutor if I’ve not only been able to help students realize their goals, but also if students have discovered something new and enriching that they can take with them as they move forward.