Teacher Profile: Mr. Friedman


Amalia Cappuccino, Contributing Writer

What is your favorite high school memory?

This is gonna get really nerdy really fast, but I was on the debate team with three really good friends of mine, and every Saturday morning we’d go to these tournaments. We would wake up really early, get to school, and print off our files and then pile onto the bus and go to these tournaments. I loved it. It was really nerdy in retrospect, but it was just a good time with people who liked the same stuff that I did. And I’m still close with those guys.

What is the most interesting place that you’ve traveled to?

A couple of years ago, my wife and I went to Japan because her brother was working outside of Tokyo. He was teaching English there, so we went to Japan for two weeks and traveled all over and that was awesome. We went to this place called Koyasan, which was the most unreal, most beautiful city that I’ve ever been to. It wasn’t really a city, it was like a collection of temples that were on a mountain, and that was really awesome. We got engaged in Tokyo, actually.

What made you decide to become a faculty advisor to the Spokesman?

I’ve never worked with a newspaper before, but it’s been really great. I was on the newspaper in middle school, which wasn’t very serious at all, and then my big thing in high school was debate, so this is not a world that I’m super familiar with. But the Spokesman is really exciting. I think that there’s a ton of potential for the paper to be really good. I’m excited to see what Hallie and Devon do with it. I wish I had more specific journalism knowledge to give them, but I’m just trying to be the best influence that I can.

Why made you decide to study, and later teach, philosophy?

Years ago, I wanted to be a rabbi, that was the track that I was on. When I got to college, I started studying religion, thinking it would be good training for rabbinical school. And then I just kind of fell in love with looking at other cultures and other ways of thinking. Buddhism, especially, kind of became my passion, so after college I decided that instead of applying to rabbinical school, I was going to go on for graduate training. I went and got a master’s in Buddhist studies and was really interested in Asian philosophy and Asian religion. And then, immediately after that, I got a job at Lawrenceville where I was teaching world religions and ethics and stuff like that, which kind of opened up my world to the possibility of teaching this stuff at private schools. I grew up going to public school where none of this was available to me, so the idea of studying the stuff in high school that I had become so fascinated by in college was really amazing. Then, I ended up going for a PhD in comparative religion and coming back to teaching, so I kind of hopped back and forth between grad school and teaching. But I think for me the biggest thing is that my whole world was opened up by looking at ways of thinking that belonged to other cultures and the sort of great sages of the past, so the fact that I get to do this with you guys, here, is the coolest thing in the world.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I think it would be really cool to be able to teleport because then you could just go anywhere, whenever you wanted, and see all these cool places. And I also wouldn’t have to commute, which would be really nice.