Professor applies unique method of helping students toward independence

It’s hard to miss an instructor wearing a kilt on the first day of class.

Brant Farrar, associate professor of Sociology at South Plains College, attended Wellman High School, before coming to Levelland to attend SPC. He later dropped out, but “came back with a vengeance,” according to Farrar.

After his time at SPC, he graduated grudgingly and went went on to attend Angelo State University, where he attained the opportunity to study abroad. He found his heritage in Scotland, along with a kilt, clan, and a part of himself.

Farrar, pronounced “Fair-Ra”, is proud of his many traveling experiences in and out of the country with his wife and son. However, that is not the only thing that defines him. Many interests and hobbies he enjoys include reading graphic novels, spending time with family, and tattoos.IMG_8645

Farrar takes pride in his ability to be himself and be proud of who he is, along with keeping an open mind to others and himself. His tattoos are his way of treating himself, but also something to tell his story and visualize his identity as much as his experiences. In the classroom, Farrar wants to help students just as his instructors helped him during his time at SPC.

For many years, Farrar was undecided about a career, even thinking he wanted to be a social worker at one point. But he soon found out that wasn’t his calling either. He realized he couldn’t handle the tragedy and heartache that came with the job.

“Dealing with the abuse in such a real way was too much for me,” he explained.

Farrar says, “When students die, I take that to heart. . . . How I deal with tragedy, I lean on my friends and my co-workers, and I talk to them about these things, . . . That family kicks in here at South Plains College.”

Along the way, Farrar dabbled in many things, including photography and art. But his love for teaching won out during his time spent as a teaching assistant in math at Texas Tech University. Some time later, he took a Calculus II class, which he dropped, and picked up a sociology class.

Farrar says that he takes pride in his curiosity, because it’s who he is. He asks the hard, uncomfortable, and “dirty” questions. His curiosity is what makes all his classes interesting, because not only does he want to question, but he also wants to be questioned. He encourages curiosity in class and makes the classroom uncomfortable.

“Comfortable is not good,” Farrar said. “Comfortable is just that it’s easy. Comfortable doesn’t move you forward. Comfortable doesn’t cause you growth.”

By making the classroom uncomfortable, it also allows the students to be free to be themselves, according to Farrar. This teaching method allows students to be independent individuals with their own stories, past, and future.

“I’m trying to teach you to make your own choices, because I can’t make them for you,” Farrar says.

While teaching, Farrar still makes time for his passions, including his part in SpeCtra, also known as the LGBTQIA+ community. Being a part of this group is life-changing, he says.

“A lot of people come from really small schools and have never ever experienced affirmation,” explained Farrar. “They have never had anybody say, ‘You’re OK, you’re good, we want you to be a part of this.”

This group is a very important part of Farrar’s life and takes up a lot of time. However, it gives him a chance to work with students, and, as Farrar puts it, “Help them do their thing.”

IMG_8675Because of his past and the way he has been defined by how he looks or has seen others be defined by how they look, Farrar understands and is relatable to his students.

Farrar uses a poem, “Famous,” by Naomi Shihab Nye, to express what he wants in life, which is to stay exactly where he is now.

“I have no desire to work anywhere else, to work any other position,” Farrar says. “I don’t want to do anything else other than this. Essentially, this is my philosophy, . . . I believe I am doing what I am supposed to do. I want to stay here until I die or retire, and hopefully I retire.”

Most people have that one thing that gets them out of bed.

“I have the ability to change lives every day,” explains Farrar. “Something I say could have meaning and change their life, or it could save their life.”

“I am a Christian, and doing love, loving people, is what being Christian is, and if I missed that opportunity to be able to help somebody have a better life, then I have done a disservice to myself and to those individuals,” he added.

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