Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Teacher Feature: Dr. Avery

We are overjoyed to announce that Dr. Josh  Avery is joining our faculty next year!

Dr. Avery earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Literature from the University of Dallas, as well as a Ph.D. from the Institute for Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas.  He is the author of numerous publications on Shakespeare and Thomas More--two significant authors in our curriculum! He has taught at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Palm Beach Atlantic University, North Lake College, and Mountain View College.  In the coming school year, he will teach Humane Letters.

Our students prepared a few questions for Dr. Avery:

When did you decide to become a teacher and why?
As is the case with a lot of teachers, it was from experiencing good teaching myself. I had a particularly inspiring teacher for Shakespeare when I was taking a British Literature course at a community college. She connected the literature with philosophy in a way that no previous teacher had ever done for me, and I decided I wanted to learn how to do that myself.

What interests do you have that might support an extracurricular club?
I really enjoy complex strategy games. For example, I am an avid fan of a Cold War simulation called Twilight Struggle. I also used to play a good deal of chess and backgammon.  Although my body is having a tougher time of it of late, I also have loved playing Ultimate Frisbee for quite a while. Another possibility would be to host a Great Books discussion club that focused on books not already covered by Humane Letters.

How do you best connect with students?
A lot of currently fashionable trends in pedagogy strike me as technocratic nonsense, soon to be replaced by other trends probably equally nonsensical. It's remarkable how the basic qualities of a good teacher really are timeless and universal: good humored-friendliness, passion, honesty, and commitment. One of my favorite comments from a student read: "You can tell he really cares, and so you learn to care." So I try to let the students see my humanity and personality, and most of them seem to appreciate that. It's helpful for them to see that literature and ideas are genuinely fun, not just promoted out of official prestige or abstract duty. I think many students suspect the study of the humanities to be a pretentious farce, and a human approach helps remove that prejudice.

If you could have dinner with anyone from history or literature, who would it be?
Aside from Jesus Christ, I think I'll say Socrates. There is hardly any major Western figure whom I find more mysterious and enigmatic. Another on the list would be Dostoevsky, whose insights into the human psyche never cease to amaze me.

Welcome to North Phoenix Prep, Dr. Avery!