I’m a lifelong project-based learner.
My parents chose to homeschool me to avoid my Massachusetts hometown’s toxic (at the time) public school system. We used textbooks for a few subjects, but most of my learning was via projects with clear goals, measurable progress, and a useful end product. I learned to write and do historical research by blogging about transit in Boston, competed in First Lego League robotic competitions, taught myself web design, photography, and video production, and went on a lot of field trips.
When I was fifteen I began volunteering at the Museum of Science, commuting to and from Boston by train alone. Over the next six years I volunteered, interned, and eventually worked part-time in five departments. I gained an understanding of how museums work and cut my teeth as an educator.
I continued writing, not just for my blog but for Trains Magazine, which is accurately described by their tagline as "THE Magazine of Railroading”.
When I was eighteen I tried some college courses and decided that I wanted to continue working in the real world, at least until I needed the classes. I started a photography business instead of going to college.
I soon discovered that self-promotion isn’t really my thing, so on my twenty-first birthday I packed my belongings into my car and drove to Colorado to work for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Working twelve-hour, ninety-mile shifts as a brakeman and later a fireman, I grew into myself as an adult. I also fell in love with a woman, and we’ve been traveling (and often working) together ever since.
Working on the railroad was an adventure, but its rigid structure frustrated me and didn’t challenge me creatively. After two years I decided to combine my interest in railroads with my museum experience and moved to the South to work for the North Carolina Transportation Museum. I’m currently the museum’s primary researcher and content developer and continue to teach myself. I’ve picked up museum label writing, graphic design and illustration, exhibit planning, and giving tours to school groups and the public.
What’s next? I don’t know where I’ll work next, but here’s what I’m trying to learn:
Urban and/or transit planning and design
Game-based learning (video games, tabletop RPGs, or otherwise)
User experience design
Cartography and GIS