Biography

I grew up in Oak Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago and the hometown of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. and Ernest Hemingway.  I went to a large public high school where I had the good fortune of being taught by truly excellent teachers, many of whom were in the history department.

When I was growing up, my main interest outside of school was classical piano. I took lessons with an Oak Park teacher and became a pretty serious musician. The only thing that could draw me away from the piano was martial arts. I studied Tae Kwon Do and earned my first-degree black belt in the summer after my senior year.

After high school, I moved to Cambridge, MA to spend four amazing years at Harvard College. I studied history, philosophy, literature, Classics, religion–just about anything and everything I could fit into my schedule. My official major was Social Studies, an inter-disciplinary social sciences honors program that admits only a fixed number of undergraduates each year. I balanced classes in social theory and political philosophy with lots of electives in the Classics. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the history of Classics education in the United States. Back in the 1700s and 1800s, why did people think it was important to study the classics? And why did they eventually decide that the Classics were irrelevant to modern life?

Some of my best experiences at Harvard were outside of the classroom. I was a classical music DJ at Harvard Radio and I practiced martial arts with the Harvard Kung Fu Club. Highlight of the Kung Fu Club: a trip to China to visit the Shaolin Temple.

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[Kung fu students, out; monks, in.]

Before I submitted my thesis and finished my degree, I was fortunate enough to take a break for a semester and travel to India. My mom is a Parsi Zoroastrian and grew up in Mumbai (my father is a Jewish American from Colorado). I spent about four months visiting family and traveling all around the country. I ventured as far north as Leh, Ladakh in the Himalayas and all the way down to Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India. Here are some photos from my trip.

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[View from a street in Leh, Ladakh.]

After finishing my degree at Harvard, I did research for a Harvard historian named James Kloppenberg. Prof. Kloppenberg just published a massive book on the intellectual history of democracy; I helped do research for the first chapter on ancient Greek democracy.

The summer after I graduated, I took up my first teaching job at the summer school of Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. I taught two courses in philosophy and lived in the dorms with students from all over the world. When the summer was over, I hopped on a plane and flew to England for my first full-time teaching post at Stowe School, one of England’s best-known boarding schools. It’s housed in an eighteenth-century palace on an estate that was designed by the famous landscape architect Capability Brown. I had a memorable year teaching classics and history, serving as Under Housemaster in a boarding house with 65 cheeky British boys, and traveling around Europe during the holidays.

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[A 5th Form student posing for the camera on classic car day at Stowe. ]

From 2011 to 2012, I taught history at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. “P.A.” is the sister school of Phillips Exeter. They’re fierce rivals; my students didn’t appreciate my Exeter flip-flops. At Andover, I taught 9th-grade world history and 10th-grade American and European history. When I wasn’t in the classroom, I spent a lot of my time hiking and canoeing with the outdoors club. In the evenings, I cooked heaping pots of chili for the ravenous boys who were my neighbors in Foxcroft Dorm.

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[Samuel Phillips Hall at Andover.]

After a year at Andover, I headed to Cambridge University for a history master’s program called Political Thought and Intellectual History (PTIH). My studies focused mostly on the history of ancient Greek democracy (I also did some American history and modern philosophy). I benefitted from the excellent supervision of Robin Osborne and Paul Cartledge.

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[Emmanuel College, Cambridge. My home college at Cambridge University.]

Since 2013, I’ve been learning new things from amazing students at Riverdale Country School, a private school in the Bronx where I teach 9th-grade world history, 11th-grade American history, and 12th-grade philosophy. I’m also the coach of the Riverdale Debate Team. On the weekends, you’ll find me wandering through Central Park or hanging out in French bakeries (I’m a croissant fiend). Speaking of croissants, please send me recommendations for the best in NYC. Seriously. Here’s my e-mail address: darius.weil@gmail.com.

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