An Interview with Retiring History Instructor Richard Nathan

An Interview with Retiring History Instructor Richard Nathan

Ian Brown, News Editor

Throughout your time at Laguna, what is one thing that has stayed the same, and what has changed?

“I would say it has certainly become more structured. In my view, this is generally a good thing, although it may have inhibited the creativity of certain individuals.

But overall, the number of people who “fall through the cracks” has greatly diminished. When I first started, it could be difficult to organize students as a teacher, but over time, things have become significantly more structured. Shall we say, we are a more “professional” school than when I started.”

What has been a favorite memory from your time teaching?

“There are many wonderful memories I could name here, of course. For me, though, the opportunity to teach a very high-level class to outstanding students is highly enjoyable.

I also loved my time in the middle school teaching 7th Grade World Geography. I absolutely loved it!

I was able to design my own curriculum, and I enjoyed incorporating my own stories and footage from the BBC that I was able to pick myself.”

If you could do something over in your time teaching, what would it be?

“I’m thinking back to the very beginning during my first years of teaching when I taught middle school American history. I realized that, by the end of the year, we hadn’t even got to the Civil War. So yes, I would probably restructure that class so that I didn’t go into too much depth in things that were interesting, but perhaps not as essential as learning about the modern era.

On a daily basis, the class was fine, but the year’s curriculum was a bit skewed.”

What have you learned from teaching at Laguna? Who/what taught you this?

“I’ve certainly learned to be much more patient than my natural inclination. I realized after a few years that, yes, this is a high-powered prep school, but it is still wrong of me to assume that everyone “gets it.”

It was certainly a struggle, especially with more general 9th grade Civ classes. But in general, I was able to learn how to accommodate a wide range of abilities in my teaching much better than when I started.”

What is special about Laguna?

“I’d say the thing I’ve liked about Laguna in my time there is that because it is relatively small compared to its major rivals, no one really falls through the cracks. Everyone is an individual, and you get to have a friendly relationship with the faculty. Particularly, if you have been involved since 9th grade, as I have for quite a few years, you get to watch them grow up and mature through high school. So, to some degree, you get to know them all, and that is very rewarding.”

What will you miss most about teaching?

“I’ll miss the regular contact with both adults and teenagers, which I have found stimulating through the years. However, I will also miss what I have always strived to work for, which is my own professional improvement. I am of the opinion that there is always more to learn, and I have had the opportunity to teach quite a number of subjects, which I believe has allowed me to continue learning a variety of subjects, and this has kept me going through the years. I’m grateful that I have taught a wide range of classes and with a wide range of age groups, and that’s very rewarding.