Ever wonder if Aristotle’s Ideas about Women’s Rights and Slavery were “benighted” for his Times? Me too!
Curious about Witchcraft in Colonial Connecticut?
Wouldn’t you love to know what Cicero had to say about Natural Law, Property and Factionalism?
My next guest, with a background in fields as varied as science, history and political science, has published papers on all that and much more.
Let’s see what he’s up to right now!
HDYGT: Welcome to How Did You Get There, Dr. Thompson. Please tell us what you do.
Bill: Thank you. I’m retired from a 51 year career as a full time professor of both high school and college, and now keep busy teaching two popular biography courses I’ve designed for the university level.
HDYGT: Wait. So you retired from teaching NOT to sip margaritas by the pool or travel but to…teach?
Bill: (smiles) Well, actually the first year of my retirement my lovely German wife and I lived in in Munich for a year, where we sipped good German beer. And we also enjoy our annual hike with friends in Big Bend, and spending Thanksgivings at our beach house.
HDYGT: (dons her professorial narrow-eye stare) So am I to infer, Professor, that all this good German beer, yodelling in the mountains and frolicking in the surf drove you back to teaching?
Bill: (wonders what’s in HDYGT’s eye and why is she squinting) I suppose so.
HDYGT: (Flabbergasted! Because HDYGT wants to use the only multisyllable word she knows in this interview with a Professor) But – HOW could this happen!? It couldn’t have been the scenery. Was it being forced to wear socks with your sandals while in Germany?? Or (gasp, bites knuckle) being forced to wear Lederhosen?!? I bet it was the Lederhosen.
Bill: (worried at the turn this interview is taking) I didn’t wear Lederhosen.
HDYGT: (squints eyes narrowly) Not even in Germany?!
Bill: (smiles, to hide his concern): Not even in Germany.
HDYGT: (slaps hand to Dr. Thompson’s forehead, checks temp) I know!! It’s the age old I’m-Having-Too-Much-Fun-For-My-Generation affliction. I’m lucky my generation’s immune to that.
Bill: (puzzled) You really think so? But, I like teaching.
HDYGT: (HDYGT pulls out a thermometer) That’s what they all say. Now open up.
Bill: (Tries to talk with HDYGT’s thermometer in his mouth) But it’s famimaming—
HDYGT: Stop talking!
(sound of clock ticking…HDYGT checks thermometer’s temperature reading)
Bill: (naively believes HDYGT’s confusion can be solved with accurate information) I enjoy teaching, and I enjoy reading biographies. It’s fascinating to discover intriguing details about figures in American History. I focus on one historical figure per class, from Ben Franklin, Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe to Mark Twain, Henry Ford, and even Elvis. I analyze the course their lives took, and what affect they had on the rest of us. Next semester I will focus on the first decade of the 21st century with a biography I’m writing on Obama.
HDYGT: (befuddled) Huh. No fever.
Bill: (never one to give up on even the slowest student) My students enjoy my classes, too.
HDYGT: (Amazed to discover people actually enjoy learning) Really?
Bill: (can’t tell if HDYGT is teasing him or if she is really dense) Yes, really. I’ve been awarded Outstanding Teacher three times in my career.
HDYGT: (an Ah-Ha moment for HDYGT) So there are actually interesting details about OTHER people’s lives? Like, people who aren’t even around anymore?? Huh. Give us an example.
Bill: (chuckles, hopes HDYGT is kidding) I don’t know. It may be Too-Much-Information-For-Your-Generation. I’m lucky my generation doesn’t have that affliction.
HDYGT: Excellent point!! Say—isn’t that what I’m doing here, on How Did You Get There?
Bill: (chuckles) Sure! Only in a half-assed, satirical sort of way.
HDYGT: By George, you’ve got it!
Bill: (Smiles the quiet smile of gratitude that HDYGT was never his student)
HDYGT: I’d love to take your class– which is a huge compliment because I thought Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
Bill: I can tell.
HDYGT: (way too pleased with herself) Did you get, that? It’s the title of a book. I actually read it, too.
Bill: Your subtlety and tremendous wit wasn’t lost on me.
HDYGT: Why thank you, Professor! So tell us about the early days of your career?
Bill: In the beginning of my career I travelled the US, starting two College Preparatory Schools, and was headmaster of four Independent Schools.
HDYGT: What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Bill: I really enjoy my students. I enjoyed starting a popular Chess Club at Roosevelt—an inner city high school in Dallas, Texas—where I taught for 20 years. We inspired most of the schools in the Dallas area to have chess teams; Roosevelt placed number three city wide. As a result, I was on a TV program which dramatized inner city kids playing chess. Roosevelt’s team was sponsored by the University of Texas at Dallas Chess team, which is currently the number one University Chess team in the U.S.
HDYGT: Outstanding. Any more interesting tidbits surrounding your career?
Bill: Bishop College, where I was Chair of History and Government, was one of the oldest African American colleges, until it closed in 1988. It was established in 1881, after the Civil War, by a New England philanthropic movement.
HDYGT: And finally, what qualities, developed or innate, have helped you in your career?
Bill: I’m rather eclectic; I like a rounded approach. But I think the real key for me has been the result of extensive, and continual self education.
HDYGT: And you obviously have a terrific sense of humour–thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences with us Professor Thompson, and as always, thank you for playing!