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I recently completed my doctoral dissertation on ethnicity and historical memory in the late Roman Republic and early Principate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I have undergraduate degrees in Classics and Political Science.

Part of graduate school is learning to be a teacher, and I have taught many courses in the University of California system in both Classics and History departments, so I am familiar with subjects ranging from Ancient Epic Poetry and Women in the Classical World to Modern Western Civilization and Medieval Literature.

I have designed and taught two of my own courses as instructor of record, both on Roman History.

I find the most enjoyable bits of teaching is taking students through a work - historical, literary, whatever - and helping the student discover the references and connections the author of that work was making, what he or she was trying to say, and to whom - to try to uncover someone else's intellectual world.

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James’ Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Pacific Lutheran University - Bachelors, Classics

Graduate Degree: University of California-Santa Barbara - Doctor of Philosophy, History

Test Scores

GRE Quantitative: 149

GRE Verbal: 165


Roman History, Politics, Current Events, Baseball, Boxing, Gaming, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Biking

Tutoring Subjects

AP Latin


College English

College Essays

Comparative Literature

Elementary School English

Elementary School Reading


Essay Editing

European History

Foreign Language


High School English




Latin 1

Latin 2

Latin 3

Latin 4


Middle School English

Middle School Reading

Middle School Writing



Social Studies



Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I think the best teaching happens in conversation. Having a text and talking about it is the traditional way teaching has happened because it works. "Exegesis" is what the Greeks called it when talking about Biblical texts, and I think the method is proven: have a text to discuss - what does it say? What does it assume? To whom is it directed? Those are things to talk about, not to dictate.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

I think the most important thing to do in a first session is to understand the student's goals. Is the student taking a class? Trying to pass an exam? Is there a book they are going to be tested on, or a paper to write? Knowing the goals is the first step to setting up a worthwhile course of study.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

The first point is showing the student what resources exist - dictionaries for languages, databases of articles for other kinds of classes. Very often it takes an expert to just show a student where they can find something they don't yet know they need to look for. The other thing I like to stress is anticipating questions someone might ask if a student were set to present on a topic. If the student can anticipate questions, the student has an automatic guide for self-directed research - he or she knows what they need to figure out. Teaching that is about conversation - present enough questions so that students become used to having a certain type of question asked, and can prepare to answer it in advance.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

In a tutoring environment, there should be no judgment or condemnation, only practice. Students might get things wrong and that's ok. Let's do it again. No need to fear failure from me! I have legitimate enthusiasm for my topics that I hope is contagious - if students aren't excited about the topic, maybe they will be amused by me being ridiculous with excitement about the topic.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

Repetition is fundamental. While repeating the problem skill or concept, I would like to try different analogies or media. In teaching Latin, I have found students sometimes have problems diagramming sentences; rather than assigning words like "noun" or "verb," I have found sometimes students benefit by marking words in different colors to indicate their grammatical job.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

Read slowly. Ask students to repeat the meaning of each paragraph, or if necessary, each sentence.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

My subjects usually require texts. I have also used images, especially of coins, and sculpture.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

Learn the student's goals for the course. That is the only way to build an effective course of study.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

Show connections to modern life! Movies are full of literature - comic book heroes are ripped from Greek myth!

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

Conversation - talking to the student is the only way to evaluate anything in the humanities.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Show the student you are impressed when they make connections - and sometimes they make connections you never thought of!

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Ask them.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Learning styles are the most important thing to adapt to. If a student is a visual learner, I try to find images. Sometimes physical movement helps. Muscle memory. The Sherlock "mind palace" thing is real. Any trick of memory to help a student should be explored.

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