Zeal for teaching

-Neill Brandon ’10, whose love of history was ignited during his childhood in historic Concord, Massachusetts, will travel to South Korea to teach high school students as a 2010 Fulbright Scholar.

Brandon will teach English and also hopes to establish an informal advising program where students can obtain tutoring and get to know their new instructor outside the classroom.

“There’s a lot more to learning a second language than classroom instruction,” he says, and I want to be as available as possible to my students.”

Brandon developed his appreciation for history in Concord, where he absorbed the stories and visited the historic sites of the American Revolution and of luminaries such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott. As a camp counselor and an uncle to nine nieces and nephews, he has also developed an avid interest in working with young people.

At Wheaton, he has majored in history with a minor in secondary education; he aspires to a career as a teacher of history.

“Teaching is a profession where I will always be learning and forced to improvise and self-evaluate,” he says. “You never know what is going to happen when you step in front of a group of students who outnumber you twenty-five to one. These days, the best teachers must entertain as well as instruct.”

For his senior seminar with Assistant Professor of History Yuen-Gen Liang, Brandon wrote a thesis on the relationship of the French peasant to institutions of authority during the Revolution of 1789.

“I have a lifetime goal of learning the French language in order to continue primary source research on this topic,” he says.

Brandon is an Anson and Jean J. Beard ’65 Trustee Scholar who has achieved Dean’s List status every semester. He has enjoyed his work as an Admission Intern, particularly the opportunity to meet perspective students and help ease the stress of the college application process.

Currently, he is completing a teaching practicum at Norton High School, where he has built upon the experience he gained as a teaching intern at his alma mater, Concord-Carlisle High School, as a peer academic advisor to first year students at Wheaton, and as a teaching assistant in Vienna, Austria, the site of his junior semester abroad in 2009.

In Vienna, known as a gateway between Eastern and Western Europe, Brandon relished both the centuries-old culture and the opportunity to teach in a foreign school system. Now he looks forward to sharing his “enthusiasm and zeal for teaching and learning” with his Korean students.

“The Korean education system is traditionally very structured and competitive, but I hope to bring a bit of creative flair to the school where I am placed,” Brandon says. He wants “to create a classroom culture that is both stimulating and memorable” through techniques such as group learning, watching and analyzing English-language films, and developing discourse through music.

In turn, he believes that his year in Asia will give him new and “more nuanced” perspectives on teaching as well as “an understanding of the globally connected world that surrounds us,” he says. “Too many American students, including myself at times, do not appreciate the impact that other nations have on the state of the world. I hope my experience in Korea will help me to directly communicate this impact to my future students.”