Thank you, Foyle Brogden

It’s National Teacher’s Day here in the US, and that got me thinking.

I was inspired to write this email back in late 2018, when I heard this podcast: It’s a hella good interview, even if you don’t have kids (I don’t).

It reminded me: I had a teacher who changed my life for the better.

His name was Foyle Brogden (yes, really), and he taught Physics at Davie County Collective High School in Mocksville, North Carolina, where I attended high school in the 90’s.

He was cool, in a nerdy, professorial way. He drove a vintage but not-restored VW bug and did not care one bit what you thought about that.

I nearly drove Mr. Brogden crazy.

It wasn’t behavior problems. I didn’t really have those until much later in life (ha!).

It was because I wanted to understand physics, and I didn’t understand the first time Mr. Brogden explained things.

So… I asked questions.

I asked a lot of questions.

I asked a maddening amount of questions.

Because dammit, I wanted to understand the subject!

I didn’t learn physics from Foyle Brogden.

Or if I did, I’ve forgotten 99% of it.

What I did learn is how to persist through not understanding something, interrogate effectively, and move into a place of understanding.

Warren Buffet has said public speaking is the most valuable career skill you can learn.

I don’t disagree, but I wonder if something like curiosity and a method for learning aren’t more fundamental to success?

Wherever you are now, Mr. Brogden, thank you for those gifts.