Faculty Focus: David Weintraub

By Stepan Houtchens
Published: March 2009

David Weintraub, a graduate of Wesleyan University and King’s College, London, is a dedicated English teacher in his fourth year of work at Newton South.

In addition to receiving his bachelor’s degree in English from Wesleyan, Weintraub gained his Master’s in Film Studies from the University of London. “I’m less interested in actual movies than I am in film theory itself. Since I have a degree in the field, I try to keep up with it as best I can, Weintraub said.

Music, however, is and will continue to serve as Weintraub’s most important means of self-expression. He is not bound by any sense of musical conformity, and is willing to listen to all different kinds of music. “I have to say that I’m really glad that I’m past the point in life where what kind of music you listen to defines you as a person, Weintraub said.
Interested in everything from German electro-pop to Nigerian psychedelic rock, Weintraub appreciates a wide range of music. He often relives experiences through auditory input, which gives him a richer sense of fulfillment than a photograph or any other medium.
Weintraub’s experience at Wesleyan gave him the chance to reflect on his philosophic perspective. While working towards his Bachelor’s degree, he unearthed Marxist philosophy, which taught him fundamental aspects of societal order. This allowed him to ask important questions and redefine his attitude towards the world. Social critics played a vital role in his philosophical inquiry as their complex ideas often reflected his own.

Weintraub’s year abroad in London, he felt, revealed elements of his nature that had previously been somewhat stifled by societal constraints. Weintraub’s economic and social observations, writing, and traveling gave rise to an overarching analysis of societal ambitions. He found himself befriending people who were keen on discovering truths and asking questions about society. These new experiences and relationships created a mindset in which conformity and conventionality could now be questioned, disagreed with, and even confronted.

Watching movies, cooking, playing music, and having fun with his new dog are, for the time being, just a few leisure activities Weintraub tends to enjoy. For the most part, however, he has his hands full with work.

Committed to literature like his colleagues, Weintraub models a what he considers an extreme work ethic. He believes that hard work, and the resulting sense of fulfillment, is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. He wants all of his students to realize that the greatest reward they can obtain is knowing that they worked hard on something, and tried their best.

Weintraub hopes that his challenging syllabus will not only educate his students, but also teach them to love learning. “High school education consists not so much in what you learn, but in how well you learn questions that the work addresses, Weintraub said. He wants students to be able to understand and navigate through complex texts and decipher the key questions that the given work addresses.

According to Weintraub, the right and the wrong of a given problem or question doesn’t exist. What does exist is the search for difficult questions, questions that propel intellectuality forward, and questions that spawn more still more questions.

“Answers are besides the point; they are easy, and they are closed. Questions open people up to the complexities, the exhilarating dangers, and true sour joys of life, Weintraub said.
Besides hard work, Weintraub’s ambitions as a teacher are to respect his students as individuals and create positive, obliging friendships. Individuality and the contributions of mental cultivation during class are incomparable according to Weintraub; they cannot be graded or condemned but exist on an entirely other plane.

“This belief in the mutually constructive, mutually supportive relationship between me and my students is what gets me up in the morning, Weintraub said.

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