Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
~William Butler Yeats
My name is Brian Huskie. I’m a National Board Certified High School English teacher from Albany, NY. I’m going into my 9th year teaching at a public high school and prior to this I worked with teens at a residential placement center. I am an Iraq War veteran and recently started a scholarship endowment for refugees in Albany (hear me on NPR, see me on Channel 6, or read about it on SUNY Albany’s newsletter). I’m married and we have two awesome kids ages 5 and 3.
I love teaching not because I love schools, but because I love students. I’ve spent the past decade, like many teachers, doing my best to create interesting, academically rigorous lessons that culminate in the skills and knowledge that will prepare students for life beyond school. I’ve concluded that we have it backwards. It is nearly impossible to arbitrarily select skills and knowledge and to try to pigeonhole them into some kind of purpose; it’s too disconnected and too sterile, like learning to hike by reading about hiking. Kids need to be engaged in something purposeful where they can learn, develop, and test that knowledge. You would learn and retain more biology and chemistry in a month of farming than you would in a High School credit in each of those courses.
For some students High School is great. For many, it’s a waiting room, and kids are just sitting, thumbing through magazines for four years, waiting for the doctor to call them so they can start living life. Unfortunately, when you sit in the waiting room for too long, you become accustomed to waiting for someone to tell you what to do. It undermines a kid’s independence, initiative, creativity, and sense of self.
My wife and I have developed an alternative program; a program that uses the community as the classroom, where young adults control their own destiny and learn by “doing”, and where responsibility is treated as absolutely necessary for any kind of meaningful growth. Volunteer work is an essential component of the program, which teaches humility, hard work, dedication, and that the adolescent is a useful contributor to society. “Challenges” are another component, which will routinely take kids out of their comfort zone. Lastly, the academic component is project based, and as such is catered to each individual kid and their interests, passions, and aptitude. For details, click here!