Academic Dean and mathematics teacher Shane MacElhiney discusses his love for teaching in a recent faculty profile. Read more below.
Background and Education
I graduated from Yale University with a B.A. Economics, where I was also pre-med. I received my Master’s in Educational Leadership from The Klingenstein Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
At WMS, I teach Algebra 1, Geometry, Ethics and AB Calculus. I have also helped design a number of Field Courses including: Economics Through the Ski Industry, Live Free or Die: Governing in New Hampshire and Community Matters: Culture in the North Country.
As a former colleague of mine once said, “I teach students, not subjects.”
I enjoy teaching a variety of subjects. I sometimes say that my ideal teaching schedule would be: a math course, a science course, an economics course and a history course.
Whenever I teach an economics class, I tell students that economics is much more than pre-business or pre-finance. It’s about asking weighty questions. How can a community organize itself to provide for their needs and wants? I still get goosebumps reading Adam Smith’s quotes about ‘the invisible hand’ guiding a pure market economy. The redistribution of wealth, the role of government…? I love that the questions are endless.
The Role of a Teacher
I sometimes use a chemistry-based metaphor to think about the role of a teacher. In chemistry, there are two broad categories of reactions called endothermic and exothermic reactions. Both typically require activation energy to happen. I like to think of teachers as the activation energy for student learning.
Favorite thing about WMS
Favorite place on campus
Wedding Hill (a hill near campus where one has a breathtaking view of the White Mountains) or any place I am having a great interaction with a student or colleague.
Whenever I sing along to a song, I never know the lyrics, but I keep singing (and dancing!) anyway.