Kevin sends this really nicely written bio:
My name is Kevin Taylor. I currently teach high school Spanish 2, 3, and 4 at Front Range Christian School in Littleton, CO. Like some other Spanish teachers, I was a 4%er who did quite well in secondary and tertiary-level language courses, even though my ability to communicate in the language was sorely lacking. Apart from the native speakers in my classes, though, everyone around me had similar difficulties, so I assumed that it was normal.
During college, I meandered through a number of majors, and finally chose Spanish, more by process of elimination than through any sort of passion for the language or the cultures of those who spoke it. Following college, however, I had the chance to live in Guatemala, and for the first time (except for a couple of college Spanish literature courses) I was exposed to large amounts of comprehensible input. It was there that my confidence and abilities improved – although I still regret the paralysis of the mouth that occasionally still comes from having realized too early that one needs to follow at least 25 million grammar rules to formulate properly even the simplest sentence.
After two years in Guatemala, I returned to the U.S. to take a job teaching high school Spanish at a college-prep high school in Wichita, KS. I taught there for 9 years, with my TPRS conversion experience coming 6 years into my stint. In 2004 I took a trip up to Wheaton Academy in Illinois, where I met Susan Butcher. There I heard her describe how she and her students spent their class periods telling wacky stories, singing silly songs, and laughing, learning, and laughing some more. Upon returning to Kansas mid-way through the second semester, I decided that I could no longer continue the grammar grind. We had to do this new thin – syllabus, scope and sequence, and copyright laws be damned (Sorry, Blaine! We did purchase the texts in subsequent years!). Within a matter of weeks, students were singing songs about the wiles of the mujer insecta and groaning about the blue cows that produce bleu cheese, as well as noting a very positive change in the demeanor of their profe.
After taking a 5-year hiatus from teaching to begin work on a doctoral degree in religious studies at Boston University (which I’m still slowly working on), I am back teaching Spanish again, and I am enjoying it because the kids are enjoying it. I can’t say that I have quite as much passion for language per se as many on this blog do, but I see the ultimate benefit in the way that newfound proficiencies in language can break down barriers in students’ minds and hearts between themselves and those who differ from them in cultural identity. God knows our world could use more of that.
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and
4 thoughts on “Kevin Taylor”
WAY off the TPRS topic – but practicing a bit of personalization here…
in what direction is your religious studies going? and Wichita – just wondering if the name Rich Mullins rings any bells…a great inspiration to me. Thanks for your bio! I am jealous that you are in ‘getting-together’ distance from Master Slavic 🙂
Yeah, Jedi Master Slavic’s a pretty cool guy! I loved the chance to see him “use the force” in class one afternoon, and look forward to doing so again in the near future.
And, yes, Rich Mullins was and is a fave. Although I never knew him personally, many of my friends did. His music and the honest way that he approached life was (and is) an inspiration to me as well!
Its all about doing it and not just talking about it…doing language (not just talkin’ about it)…doing life and faith (not just arm-chair philosophy)…a goofy comparison, but true. Enjoy the rest of your day!
Not goofy. By the way y’all. This blog is just a cover to get people like you into Denver Public Schools. Noonan’s the mastermind.
I don’t know who Rich Mullins is, but what you say, Brian, strikes a chord with me. Doing language and life and faith full on is not easy and I like the way you say that. The word you used there, faith, is a charged one in spaces like this because we have so many versions of it in our big country. I guess what I am saying is that faith is not a word to avoid here. We may as well get that out in the open. Each one has our own version of faith. I told mine to Laurie this summer. I’m out there. But I am of the opinion that, in these times, faith, however we define it, is something we need in schools these days. In some moments of certain days, without faith and trust in something greater than ourselves. some of us would be pretty much screwed. So don’t avoid the word in the self reflection work you do here just because our society is that way. Nobody will be offended as long as no preaching is done on behalf of any one sect or religious position. God is pretty big and we need him now. Especially on another Sunday night, right?