Teacher Stories: Brent Shibla, Manasquan High School, U.S. History, World History, Economics
When I first got into music, I was like nine or ten. Green Day’s Dookie had just come out: I guess it was in 1994, and that was like at the time if you were into punk rock, that was like blasphemy. You know, it was all over MTV. But when you’re nine or ten years old, and you don’t have an older sibling to tell you any better, that was like my introduction to punk rock. And I got into all the 90s stuff. And then, by high school, I got really into metal. But then I went back to punk rock by the end of high school because I got really into the Misfits and Black Flag and stuff like that because it was catchy and heavy at the same time. By college, I just went like nuts. I started collecting vinyl. Vinyl is really what got me into everything. I just became obsessed with punk rock and metal.
Punk rock has always been my favorite, though, because I just love the ethos of it. It’s tough and it’s angry and gritty. It’s all about helping your fellow man and it’s always been about the LGBT community even when it was looked down upon by everyone else. And I think that’s what I love about it when you go to a punk rock show. They are always so inclusive.
Social Studies fits perfectly because I think understanding the past and understanding how our system works with economic systems, racial inequality–the history of all that is so important. I always felt it was more like a punk rock thing to understand and read about that stuff. I think that ethos and the best part about being a teacher is you can stomp a lot of that crap out that you don’t like, because you’re the one teaching the class. Like if anyone ever said anything mean towards somebody, I’d be like, ‘Yo, knock that sh-t off in my class. You don’t treat someone like that.’ And I kind of come across that in general, because I treat everybody pretty equally and I think being a teacher, you have at least some sort of guidance to maybe try to direct kids that way, which is what I liked about punk rock being so accepting of every type of mentality. Yeah, so the fact that punk rock started me in this direction and now I am teaching from that background, it’s really cool.
Teaching the curriculum content is easy. Keeping kids engaged and interested is the next leap. I will do anything possible. I’ll play music in class and I’ll have games and interactions because I want them to enjoy the learning experience. I’ll tell the kids on the first day I will do a backflip off the wall and do a handstand, whatever it’s going to take to keep them interested. The kids respond and I think that they see how much I care.
Note: Bent Shibla is also an author. You can get his book, Paradise Door, here on Amazon.
Interview by Gregory Andrus