Matt Polazzo

tutor, teacher

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Matt went to school at Packer and St. Ann’s before attending Bowdoin College. He entered the profession of education through Teach for America, and then moved on to Stuyvesant High School. He’s been teaching a variety of APs (AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government, AP Comparative Government) at Stuy for 15 years and is also the coordinator of student affairs, which means that he oversees about 100 student-run clubs and publications. He has three kids and lives in Bed-Stuy.

…a text I love to teach

About six years ago, I created an elective class devoted to the careful study and exegesis of the classical works of Western political theory. It’s hard to choose which of these books are the best, but I’ll cheat and pick two: Plato’s Republic, which is the first book we read, and Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, which is the last. It’s a lot of fun to watch Plato construct a world of forms, concepts and ideals–one based on an explicit rejection of the senses. And then Nietzsche’s rebuttal, in which he implies that Socrates deserved his hemlock for creating Plato and the platonic. It’s great fun watching Nietzsche smash the elegant temple of all philosophy. It leaves the students with great questions–if not answers–about the world.

…a favorite place I’ve visited

Hanging out on my stoop on a warm day with my family.

…eight people living or dead I’d invite to my ideal dinner party

Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Lincoln, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Arendt and my (non-famous) grandmother Shirlee Bergman

…something I can’t stop thinking about

Extinct Antarctic fauna. Imagine a warm Antarctica with 23-hour nights at 68 degrees and long, baking summers. Some crazy animals lived there.