10 Questions News

10 Questions with Dr. Slater, Instructor in History and Social Science

Donald Slater is an Instructor in History and Social Science and Director of Outdoor Pursuits. He has been at Andover for 19 years, spending his first 12 years at the Peabody Institute and working in the History and Social Science Department for the past 7 years. Outside of the classroom, Slater enjoys hiking, traveling, and photography.        

  1. How do you like directing Outdoor Pursuits?

I love Outdoor Pursuits!  Being a part of OP is one of the most rewarding and fun components of my job at Andover. It feels like a special joy and privilege, specifically when I can turn students on to the beauty of the natural world who previously have not had much opportunity to get outdoors.   

  1. Do you have a favorite outdoor activity you like to do?

Hiking is easily my favorite activity indoor or outdoor. There is just nothing that I would rather do than wander through the forests taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells of different biomes on the way up a mountain and then soak in the dramatic 360-degree vistas from a summit above the treeline.

  1. Why did you decide to pursue History and Social Science?

Curiosity about things, people, and events of the past is something that has always seemed to be deeply embedded in my core. Even as a very small child, the ancient world fascinated me. I briefly followed practicality and studying business early in my college years and then decided to follow my passion and switched my major to archaeology.

  1. What do you like most about teaching and working at Andover?

There really is so much to like about teaching at Andover. First and foremost are the students.  Every day I am grateful to work with such curious, smart, and motivated young people that genuinely love to learn. I am likewise grateful for my amazing colleagues on the faculty and staff. Phillips Academy is not just my workplace, but a home and community for my family and me.

  1. What is your favorite unit to teach in History?

This is like asking me to pick a favorite child. It is just not possible! To name a few, I love to teach about ancient Maya cosmology and religion, early New England gravestone art, and the period leading up to the Revolutionary War. I am fortunate to teach electives on the first two topics I mentioned.

  1. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to travel both locally and abroad to see archaeological, historical, and natural sites with my family and friends. The more that I can hike and work on photography while I travel, the better. Otherwise, I am an ever-increasingly obsessive collector of colonial currency and coins, early New England antiques, and 1960s posters and handbills that advertised rock concerts.

  1. What is your favorite movie?

Some favorite movies include Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings series, as well as the Christopher Nolan mind-benders Inception and Interstellar.

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and why?

I have spent most of my professional career studying ancient Maya cave rituals. After all of this time, I remain struck by how little I know about how and why these cave rituals occurred.  I would love to have dinner with an ancient Maya religious practitioner who was willing to enlighten me.

  1. What is your favorite food?

My favorite food would have to be a nice rare filet mignon steak.

  1. Is there anything you can’t live without?

First and foremost I can’t live without my family. I also can’t live without having some adventure on the horizon to look forward to.