Bod Magazine: A blast with the past


Tony Silvestri, lecturer in the history department, has been teaching for 26 years, not including his time in graduate school.

For the first 15 years of his teaching career, he worked at a private school in Los Angeles where he taught a number of humanities courses, including history and acted as the chess club advisor. Since coming to Washburn, he has taught the history of ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Egypt, Medieval Europe, Japan and the golden age of piracy, along with all of the world history survey courses.

He earned his undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and went to the University of Southern California for his master’s and Ph.D.

Silvestri’s teaching style is based on engaging students through storytelling. He also sees himself as a generalist.

“I know a lot of things about a lot of things,” Silvestri said. “I view my role as standing by the doorway and inviting students into the wonderful palace that is history. There are rooms to explore and caves and attics with experts that you can dig deep, but I’m not the person to dig deep with.”

In addition to teaching, Silvestri works as a lyricist for classical, choral and opera composers. He has written three operas and one of his poems has been turned into a children’s book. He currently works on a book of original poetry as a resource for composers.

Silvestri’s students maintain a high opinion of the multi-skilled professor.

“I really enjoy his openness and the way that he explains history using language and analogies that students can understand,” said Marissa Coyle, senior history major. “He tries to utilize simulation experiences in his higher-level courses, which I think grab the students’ attention and make the content more memorable. For example, he made a board game about war in pre-modern Japan when I took his Japanese class.”

Silvestri is a respected teacher with a clear passion for his subject.

“[History is] foundational to the humanities, to the human experience,” Silvestri said. “Everybody should take a history class just to understand that we, as a civilization, have a past and there’s a reason why we are the way we are. You need to have that well-rounded education in order for you to be a well-rounded person.”

This is an article from the Spring/Summer 2016 Bod Magazine. Pick up your FREE copy today WITH additional content in front of the Student Media Office located on the lower level of Memorial Union.