Sergey Phokine

Sergey Phokine

Teacher of History 


  • MA in History, Moscow State University, Russia

Born in Moscow, I studied history at Moscow State University. Before that, I was incredibly lucky to meet the most amazing teachers in the lyceum. So after graduation, I came back there to teach and to work with and keep learning from teachers that I loved so much. Ever since I was teaching in different schools.
To me, teaching is kind of a selfish thing. It’s a great way to learn more, a great pleasure of working with kids and teenagers. Plus, working in schools gives you this satisfaction of seeing the result of your work by the end of the year with students becoming interested and passionate about new things, showing new skills, being able to discuss matters on a new level.
UWC seems to be a dream job because here with students so motivated, so talented and successful, so different and willing to understand each other and work together, this joy of teaching is really easy to feel.
In return, I try to share the beauty of human history and how it can be seen as less of a science of our past and more of a science of our perception of the past and ourselves.

What is the favourite part of the course you teach?
I find the XIX century of European history rather charming. There you can see the roots of many of our beliefs and misconceptions. The age that worshipped the progress also represents the idea of change in human society: how quickly we can change and how much of an illusion this change can be.

Which teaching method do you prefer and why?
History is not only a bunch of concepts and theories but also a lot of very good stories that I like to share with students and which they can share with each other. The best part for me though is working as a group deconstructing these stories, trying to understand why were they created in this particular way. Letting students use the past of human societies as an exercise in analysis, discussion and group work to me is a way to combine the beauty of history with the usefulness of the school education.

What advice would you give to a student of your subject?
If history is not fun for you, you are probably doing it wrong. There is a lot of ways to enjoy this subject, so try not to waste your time and energy learning it in a way that doesn’t please you.

Who is your role model or mentor or who inspires you?
I used to have amazing teachers in my lyceum, that probably inspired me to become a school teacher in the first place. Today they still inspire me and it is very interesting to see where I try to copy them and where I choose to do things differently.

What are the three things you can't imagine your life without?
Family, books, friends.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Reading, playing video games, mixing cocktails, hiking and doing concentrated nothing