Hewson’s history in the humanities


Lex Li

Mr. Hewson flashes a smile while his first-period criminal law class takes their Insanity Unit exam.

Lainey Maniak, Copy Editor

Haydn Hewson has been a social studies teacher at Edina High School for the past six years. The breadth of jobs he held before arriving at EHS sets him apart, moving through a substantial number of humanities careers before settling down to be the teacher students recognize today. 

Originally an English major, Hewson graduated college with a history degree and conducted data research for lobbying groups in Washington, D.C., before going to law school. Although it’s somewhat common for social studies teachers to have law degrees, Hewson’s stories regarding his time clerking are one-of-a-kind. “Our most serious guy walked into the Supreme Court building with a sawed off shotgun and a katana, and had built an improvised bomb in his van that he left parked outside,” Hewson said. “He refused to have an attorney, because he wanted to represent himself, and so the judge…appointed me as his pro se co-counsel, because pro se means defending yourself, right? And you’re allowed to do that, but it’s really hard when you have to be handcuffed to the desk…so I got to sit next to him, and, you know, he kept telling me to read his manifesto, which I had. It was very interesting, there were a lot of pictures and it was hand-written.”

After following up clerking with public defense, Hewson moved to Duluth, Minnesota, and decided he’d had enough of law. “I ended up volunteering for AmeriCorps, partly as a way to pay off student debts, partly because I just needed something to do, and they had me teach, and I realized that’s probably what I should’ve been doing the whole time,” Hewson said. Eventually, he wound up at EHS, where he currently teaches philosophy, criminal law, and sociology. 

Despite the stereotype, there are still students who want to go into the humanities who consult with Hewson for help. “I try to be realistic about it. My bachelor’s degree in history got me nothing but being a research lackey for lobbyists in the pharmaceutical industry,” he said. “One of my history advisors in undergrad basically told me, you can try to get your PhD and be a professor, there are a couple of jobs out there for actual historians…and law school’s always a backup plan…My advice would be to, you know, pursue your passion and try to find something you’d like, because having a job that you actually like is really nice and rewarding.”

Although there’s increasing financial pressure for students to go into STEM, Hewson emphasizes the importance of the humanities. “I still hope people actually do want to go into the humanities because we need those, or else, you know, the world is not as great a place. Science is all well and good but art, literature, history, the beauty of the world, those you don’t really get with math,” he said.

This piece was originally published in Zephyrus’ print edition on April. 20.