Meet a Tutor: Ben


Tell us a bit about yourself! Where are you from originally, and what brings you to New York?

I’m from the green Pacific Northwest, originally, but I came east to Boston for college, and then, after a year in England, to New York. In addition to teaching, I work as an actor and writer in the city.

What was your favorite subject in school? 

English, probably, or history, and then foreign languages when those began—I had the chance to study abroad in France in high school, and my favorite teacher at home was in German. My parents are both math teachers, though, so I ran the gamut. I wound up majoring in Comparative Literature, with a minor in Environmental Science and Public Policy.

Is there a particular lesson or concept that you remember learning very clearly, either because of the way that it was taught, the way you came to understand it, or the way it changed the way you look at the world? Tell us about that experience. 

I’ll swing over to my inner biology nerd for this one, because I have a very clear memory of learning about the concept of the planet’s albedo in high school—the ratio of sunlight that is reflected off the earth’s surface and how it influences climate—and understanding for the first time some part of how the Earth works almost as an organism on a macro-level, a complex web of interdependent living and non-living actors and environments. That technical lesson helped me zoom out on the globe and see myself as one small piece in the wider puzzle of life on Earth.  

What is your favorite book?

I’ve never been good at favorites, so I’ll just say that right now I’m reading The Quiet American, by Graham Greene, and enjoying it.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to every student reading this?

Curiosity is your most important tool; find a way to make whatever you’re learning interesting for you, personally, and don’t expect that it will always happen automatically. 

What’s your favorite word? 

Still not a fan of favorites, but how about ‘tintinnabulation’? It means ‘a ringing or tinkling sound,’ and I’ve always enjoyed that kind of onomatopoeia, when the sound of a word conjures up its definition. 

How do you spend your free time?

I like to escape into the great outdoors, when it’s possible to get away from the city for a bit — and I also find fresh air playing pick up soccer on the weekends. 

What does learning mean in your life?

I try always to be learning, and to pass on my love of learning to others; I’ve seen how learning can transform the way I see the world, and I never want to stop. My dad recently retired after thirty years as a public schoolteacher, and this year’s he’s been learning Dutch (in preparation for a trip abroad) and how to build a wooden kayak. That’s a model I can aspire to!