Teacher Spotlight: Dr. Ted Preston

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Philosophy Professor Dr. Ted Preston holding his first published textbook.

A famous man by the name of François-Marie Arouet (better known as Voltaire), once said, “The discovery of what is true and the practice of that which is good are the two most important objects of philosophy.”

For someone like Philosophy Professor Dr. Ted Preston, the quote would be understandable, but for us, we would probably have to answer that quote with a question of our own. What is Philosophy?

Philosophy has been explained to us as the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge or conduct. Knowledge is endless, and so must our minds be. What better person to open these doors in our minds but Dr. Preston.

Dr. Preston has been teaching for 13 years and has been with Rio Hondo since 2005. His commitment to helping students has led him to not only be a professor, but become a writer as well.

Dr. Ted Preston has written two textbooks, his last textbook, An Ancient Way of Life, was just published through local source textbook publisher Gnutext.

Dr. Preston’s second 254 page textbook reviews the major movements in ancient philosophy from the birth of the movement to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Skepticism, Epicureanism, and Stoicism.

When asked why he chose Philosophy as his expertise, Dr. Preston said, “I got excited about philosophy after taking an introduction to philosophy course as an undergraduate (for GE requirements). I had always thought about “deep” things, but hadn’t known there was a field of study devoted to it. The more I got into philosophy, the more I realized how life-changing, how therapeutic, it could be. Being a philosophy professor was the natural outcome that allowed me to combine my vocation (teacher) with my passion (philosophy).”

After viewing both his textbooks online I was shocked as to how inexpensive they both were. I asked him if it was done on purpose to aid students, his reply was, “Yes, that is exactly why my books are priced as they are, and written as they are. While I hope that anyone might be able to enjoy and learn something from my books, my target audience in writing them was Rio Hondo students, specifically. I think that textbook prices from the major publishers are generally outrageous. Most philosophy texts are around $100 (or more). At that price, many students don’t buy the book, and therefore don’t read it. I’m very happy to partner with Gnutext, a Local Source Textbook provider, and provide an alternative. I wanted to write textbooks that would be affordable, so that students would actually buy them—and it has worked!  I also wanted to write books that were accessible and understandable, so that students wouldn’t just buy them, but also read (and understand) them. That seems to have worked also.”

Dr. Preston is a liked and respected teacher not only with the staff at Rio, but the students as well. Students have said that Dr. Ted Preston is “A great Teacher”, and have also been quoted as saying, “Amazing professor who clearly loves what he does.”

I asked Dr. Preston if he had any last advice for students and his response was, “Sure, though it doesn’t necessarily have much to do with my books.

I like to compare enrolling in classes to enrolling in a gym membership. You’re purchasing access to resources, and to expert assistance, to help you reach your goals.

You’ll only get out of it what you put into it, though. If you join a gym, but never go work out, don’t be surprised when you don’t get more fit!

If you ignore your trainer, or train half-heartedly, don’t be surprised when you don’t reach your fitness goals. The very same principles apply to education. If you enroll in a class, but never attend, or don’t do the work, or only do so half-heartedly, don’t be surprised if you don’t learn much, and don’t do so well in that class. If you “train hard,” on the other hand, you’ll probably be pleased with the result, over time.” Both Dr. Preston’s books are out and can be purchased at amazon.com for a very inexpensive price. His first textbook is title, Introduction to Philosophy: A Way of Life. And his second, and latest textbook, is titled, An Ancient Way of Life.

Once again, Congratulations Dr. Preston, and thank you for not only teaching, but caring about students and their future. We look forward to more textbooks.