Christina Von Koehler
"Even before I became a teacher, I often found myself explaining an artwork or a building to friends or family. The boundary between teacher and student is very porous: we learn from each other. There’s no such thing as a “stupid question.” Each query leads us to examine – together — our assumptions about what the past was like and how it’s connected to the present. In other words, scratching our heads while looking closely at old stones, walls, or paintings and then discussing why they could possibly matter is another means to re-examine what we already know. My favorite comment from a student evaluation (I have been lucky enough to have been teaching the history of Paris for American universities here since 2001) is this one: “My professor taught me the most important thing I never knew: that I needed to lift up my head and open my eyes.”
My favorite place in Paris for musing is the Grand Foyer located in the Palais Garnier opera house. Look up and you will espy the depiction of eight supremely elegant Muses, their grandeur inspired by Michelangelo’s Sibyls in the Sistine Chapel.
The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship for France, Christina holds an M.A. in Political Economy from Columbia University's SIPA and an M.Phil in European History from CUNY. A former dancer and arts administrator, she has taught history and civilization courses in both New York and Paris for the past twenty-five years. She also frequently lectures on opera and ballet.