A few years back NEJHE featured Boston freelance writer Matt Robinson on a program called “Training Transformational Teachers” that uses research from various fields to help teachers understand the ways the brain learns best, then shows them classroom-tested strategies to boost student interest and retention and creative applications of what they’re learning. Now, Robinson has authored Lions, Tigers, and…Bulldogs? An unofficial guide to the legend and lore of the Ivy League from his own publishing operation Fighting Quaker.
“As students across the country continue to wait for the proverbial ‘big envelope’ from the colleges of their choice, it may be a good time to take a look at the history of some of these esteemed institutions and perhaps to have a little fun in the process,” writes Robinson of his new book.
For the past 20 years, Robinson has been teaching at and writing for and about schools and institutions from the preschool to university level. Along the way, he has also tutored and brought programs that range from boxing to recycling to public, private, charter and parochial schools throughout the Greater Boston area.
Despite his expertise as a writer and teacher, it took Robinson the greater part of 20 years to start his book and over five years to see it come to life. “People would always ask me when my book was coming out,” Robinson explains, “but as I was preoccupied with my students’ writing and my own writing assignments, personal projects always went to the back of the line.”
When his father was diagnosed with dementia in 2012, however, Robinson felt a new sense of urgency and decided to make the time to share stories that had been inspired by his father’s time at Brown University.
“I will never forget going to the Brown-Harvard games as a kid with my father,” Robinson recalls. “The game was never all that great, but I was captivated by the bear!”
For many years, Robinson dreamed of following his father to Brown and becoming the school’s mascot.
“I just loved how he (or she) just ran around and acted crazy, hidden inside the giant bear head so nobody knew who he (or she) was,” Robinson explains.
Though his father passed while Robinson was still working to get his book published, Robinson had the book ready in time for what would have been his father’s 80th birthday.
“The book was for him.” Robinson reminds readers, “so I made it my duty to have it ready for his big birthday.”
Published in August 2019, the book is now being sold on Robinson’s website and at various venues in and around the eight schools that are featured. He has also reached out to alumni associations and other organizations elsewhere and is always looking to make more connections and to hear more stories from fellow Ivy alumni.
“Publishing and selling a book on your own is challenging,” Robinson admits, noting that he has also been presenting a seminar about being a self-published author at various locations,” but the project was a lot of fun and it allowed me to honor my father’s legacy in a meaningful way.”