Hi - I’m Brian Crawford and I am thrilled to join The Downtown School’s team! With its strategic, downtown location, the school offers a prime environment for making theoretical learning in the classroom more practical. Within the framework of the English curriculum, I am eager to partner with local organizations so that students can explore and discover first-hand how language and storytelling inform every facet of human interaction, including psychology, marketing, journalism, government, park design, theater production, publishing, and music. Because we will be a small faculty, cross-curricular collaboration will be both highly efficient and integral to our exploration of English. I am so excited to offer learning experiences that reinforce what students are doing in other classes and in their own lives.
Several guiding principles inform my approach to teaching English, and I look forward to bringing these to The Downtown School.
First, I want students to understand that literature is, first and foremost, an experiment in understanding humanity. According to literary theorist Roland Barthes, “Literature is the question minus the answer.” Stories—in all their forms—are fundamentally about humans figuring out how to face challenges and grow from them. I am hoping, therefore, that our students will be able to use literature as a mirror to better understand their own challenges and experience of being human.
Second, I want students to see literature as a window into other ways of thinking, living, and negotiating life. Stories are meant to take us out of ourselves and become someone else for a while, before returning to reality. Hopefully, doing so will allow students to gain perspective on our world’s diversity, and thereby get a sharper perspective on their own lives.
Finally, our English classes will focus on how language creates meaning. On the one hand, we will explore how meaning forms in our mind when we read texts or listen to others. On the other, we will test out creating meaning through writing and speaking. I am excited for students to understand the power of words to effect change in the world, and the power of stories to connect us to others.
Working at The Downtown School promises to be a great adventure—one that I am thrilled to embark on along with my students and colleagues!