Our Inspired Teachers: Tom Tucker '66

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Every day Catlin Gabel teachers inspire their students. 16 faculty members talk about how they came to teaching—and what they love about their craft

 From the Autumn 2012 Caller

Tom Tucker '66, US and MS woodshop

 Bachelor’s in design, Marlboro College. At CGS since 1979.

 What really informed my practice as a teacher was “Faculty Flip Day,” an event invented by then-head of school Schauff (Manvel Schauffler). Each teacher spent that day teaching in an entirely different grade level and discipline. I found myself in Bob Kindley’s Upper School math classes. The idea was not so much to take Bob’s place as it was to see what it was like to be in another teacher’s shoes. I tried to add what little knowledge I had about higher math in the form of an explanation of Pythagoras’s Rule of the 18th (fret positions for stringed instruments) and the trigometric functions that might describe the angles of a podium I had recently built. Mostly what I did was experience Bob’s life as a US math teacher through his students and his room. And the same could be said for whoever replaced me in the shop. What I learned from the experience was simple, and for me, profound.

All of us engaged in the profession of teaching, it seemed to me, are really bent on the same task: engaging students to notice the details and aesthetics of their lives and environments, and the cultures that surround them. I do it through woodworking and the application of tools, wood, and considered thought. Bob did it through the wonders, magic, and discipline of math, and all my colleagues do it through their individual passions and exquisite knowledge of their fields of expertise. But what it basically boiled down to, for me, was that we are all educating our students to be thoughtful, respectful, caring, and aware of this society and planet that we inhabit. Each age will have its challenges in the tools of its time. The important elements are the reasoning, skills, sense of responsibility, and heart that underlie the use and purpose of those tools.