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Brad Kohl


Brooklyn Park, MN

Recorded by

Diana Limbach Lempel

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This interview with Brad Kohl took place remotely via Zoom on June 29, 2022. Brad is an educator and former math teacher based in Minnesota. In his last phase interview, Brad had left behind his longtime role as a math and community projects teacher at an independent private school. In this interview with Diana Limbach Lempel, Brad reflects on what he has been doing since that significant life change. He has come to realize: "I am a teacher" (1:18:00), seeing teaching not as a position as an institution but as a role in society and the definition of his personality, "part of his DNA." In the beginning of his interview, Brad talks about how he has used the skills he developed doing remote teaching in order to cultivate an online sermon practice, which began first when he helped his mother's church go online during lockdown, and continued when he realized that there were people like him who needed welcoming spaces that valued story, and that he had a lot to say about the war in Ukraine, where he has many friends. Brad shared that: "a little hope and kindness in the world is a little hope and kindness." Brad was the most animated when he recounted the "adventure" of the early days of remote learning and how it helped him refine his teaching (such as learning how to use his face to communicate his felt emotions, and helping kids who need time with tests or who feel shy in class to come out of their shells), and he provided a clear, hopeful vision for how hybrid-by-choice and remote learning can help kids feel more welcomed and valued as themselves. He says he values this kind of acceptance because it's something he's had to make for himself, and encourages teachers who have struggled with online learning to consider how they can adapt their values into the setting of remote schooling, and to allow their discomfort to teach them compassion for the students who have always been uncomfortable in school. Brad finished the interview by expressing his appreciation for the duration of the Education Narratives Project, which has allowed him to notice the change in himself over these two years, and thinks that the collection will provide a window into the under-discussed social dynamics among the adults at schools, because "schools are not run by people for whom the system didn't work."

Interviewer Bio:

Diana Lempel is a mother of two young boys and a descendant of 20th century Italian immigrants, Mayflower passengers, and at least one professional medium. Her world-making combines women’s and family history with fiction and performance, and a strong attention to place, community, magic, and labor. Diana has served as the Mass Humanities Scholar in Residence for the New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival, the Doing History Curator at the Cambridge Historical Society, and the Researcher in Residence at the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park’s exhibition “Visionary New England.” She received a MUP in Urban Planning + Design and an MA in Landscape Studies from Harvard University.

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

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