I’m your teacher, Mr Thomas. I won’t tell you how old I am, you can figure that out (there are a million ways to do it, if you want to). You’ll find that is a constant refrain in my class: “I won’t tell you, you can figure it out.” You won’t like hearing it, but you will learn how to figure things out.
But here are some things I will tell you: I’m not a big fan of grades, so I try to be generous. I cannot stand laziness, so I try to be unpredictable. Most students try and figure a teacher out — give him exactly what he wants when he wants it. My two least favorite questions are, “Are we going to need to know this?” and “Is this for a grade?” I hate the questions so much, I promise to never tell you when I am going to collect something and when I am not. What I really want is for you to do every assignment as if it were for a grade. I’ll show you what’s expected, I will work to make you good at everything, and I promise to grade you fairly and hold you to reasonable expectations. It’s school; everything is about learning, learning is always about transformation, and, if done right, both you and I will have learned a lot by the end of the year.
I like old country music (and rock, and classical, and 1950’s jazz, and contemporary afro-beat — not a big fan of pop, though). I love reading about the history of Hip-Hip, but haven’t listened to a Hip-Hop album since De La Soul’s The Grind Date in 2004. Unlike many, I don’t want anything for free (because nothing is free). Unlike some, I’m glad migrant workers have a chance to work (and wish more hipsters would work), and I am pretty sure Jesus did not think much of walls. Christianity is tough on political considerations, let me tell you. If you try and balance one with the other, sometimes you come off looking like a liberal.
So, I have been accused of being a liberal. I’m not. Press me on most issues, and I am more conservative than nearly all of you because I love reading about politics, history, and the United States of America, and I believe every country should keep an eye on the past as it moves forward, which, I believe is the heart of conservatism. I like to say “I never voted for a loser,” but that would be wrong (most of them turned out to be losers). I made one critical voting error in hopes of resurrecting the ghost of Ronald Reagan (whom, btw, I named my first-born child after — she’s a girl, try and beat that one!). As it turned out, I did not get my way; I own the mistake, and I will never make it again, and now I have to live in a very confused country that barely reflects anything I believe in.
Ghana is my favorite country in the world (my favorite city is London — NYC is a distant 2nd); I’ve been there four times and am going again in two years (wanna come with?). Ghana is — based on my experience there — the most Christian nation on earth. I like Christianity, so I like Ghana; they are everything I wish America was (faithful, patriotic, dignified). When we go, my family works with deaf and disabled people (there is nothing fake about these people — and I love sincerity). In Africa, we work with a terrific man (my friend Raymond) who has worked to establish workers’ rights for deaf people, and who actively tries to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who do not have very good hands and feet. He gives literally everything he has (money, time, energy, health) for his work; I don’t know many people like that, so Raymond — in almost every way, is my hero — and I want to do everything I can to help him.
So that’s me: I love teaching, I love English, I love kids (but I do not always love teaching kids English). I’m a teacher who wants school to mean something other than right answers and grades; who wants students to understand the world is bigger than they think; who wants you to work at seeing things differently. A guy who will ask you questions you might now want to answer, a conservative Christian who maintains a “holy skepticism” about almost everything (it means I’m cynical, and I don’t trust easily). I expect I’ll make all of you mad at least once, but, my deep hope for all of you, is that you will leave here knowing that I care deeply and I will fight to the end to get us all one step closer to Heaven.