New Science Teacher Voices Sage Words

Mr.+Philip+Tran+poses+next+to+a+microscope

Jordan Hoover

Mr. Philip Tran poses next to a microscope

Naomi Linde, Staff Writer

Mr. Philip Tran joined Bromfield at the start of the 2021-22 school year as a high school science teacher. Previous to Bromfield, he completed his student teaching in Boston in an AP science class, and then taught chemistry and environmental sciences classes in Hudson, MA. 

Tran grew up eleventh in a family of 15 children. His parents emigrated from Vietnam, and his generation was the first to go to college. For Tran, education was a big part of his life growing up in Cantonment, FL, and most of his older siblings became engineers. The value of education that people around him had was a major reason he pursued teaching. He values the support system of school and mentioned how school values guide students’ lives. He said “[If it wasn’t for school,] I would feel a little more lost in life than I am now.”

Tran likes teaching because it takes him out of his comfort zone, and it uses a different mental muscle. Typically an independent learner who reads textbooks, teaching requires him to be empathetic toward student’s different learning styles, so he teaches using different learning methods. He says that some people are “holistic thinkers [and others are] people that work procedurally.” 

For college, Tran attended MIT and was involved in an extracurricular group which focused on event planning in the educational field, which is another reason that he became a teacher. He thinks that teachers have the power to be motivational. He sagely added, “The most common complaint from students across the board, or even from me when I was a student, is ‘why do I have to learn this?’ I think we say that [because we] absolve ourselves from doing the things [teachers] want us to do. … A teacher that can motivate you to say why you’re learning what you’re learning can [push] you to take on something new.”

The college environment taught Tran important life lessons such as academic humility and how to fail while learning. He experienced a mental shift from high school, where he wanted to get an A, to college where it was more process-oriented. He noted receiving feedback is important because students need to appreciate people who take “the time and effort to [say] that you can improve from where you are now.” 

When Tran entered the world of Ivy League colleges, mental illness was a frequent topic of discussion. At MIT, imposter syndrome was the most common one that people struggled with. Tran is excited that schools are starting to consider mental health. He is glad that there is more support towards these conversations. He thinks people should treat their mental health as an “invisible resource to sustain and cultivate”. He also talked about “Sleep Olympics”, when students compete for the shortest amount of sleeping time. He said, “maybe we shouldn’t be doing that.”

To support his own mental health in college, Tran decompressed while figure skating and running half-marathons. He said that trying to get better at something that is not academic benefited him. He concluded that he is more resilient than he thinks he is. Tran also commented that his Vietnamese culture helped his mental health. He said that his Eastern values and philosophies such as Buddhism, yoga and meditation, and watching Asian movies helped his well-being. He observed that Western culture cares more about the physical aspect of yoga, while the mental aspect gets lost in the YouTube videos. 

This year, Tran teaches Biology, Chemistry, and Honors Chemistry.