George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

Celebrity Q&A: Rob Morrow on the Importance of Student Engagement

The actor tells how his drama teacher helped him turn from the self-destructive ways of his youth.

January 24, 2007

Actor Rob Morrow, best known for playing an indentured doctor in the '90s television series Northern Exposure, stars in Numb3rs, a drama about an FBI agent who recruits his mathematical-genius brother to help solve challenging crimes. Morrow also is on the board of directors of Project ALS, which funds research to find effective treatments and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal neuromuscular ailment.

What is your idea of a perfect teacher?

I like this approach of finding out how a person learns, whether it's auditory or visual or tactile. If you can find a way to make that information register in a deep enough way that it lasts, or you ignite a passion in the student, you're a great teacher.

What was your most memorable school experience?

My drama teacher, Mrs. Barbara, couldn't believe how self-destructive I was in terms of cutting school and failing. But she also knew that I had something going on in terms of acting, and she made that clear to me. That gave me the confidence to do what I should have been doing.

What was the low point of your school career?

There were a couple times when, because of my reputation as a troublemaker, I was accused of calling a black teacher a pejorative. And I didn't do it. And I couldn't believe that I was being accused of it, because it was not something that would come out of my mouth.

Did you go to public or private school?

Both. I ended up getting shipped off to a prep. It was an amazing experience, because it started to expose me to larger aspects of the world. It was a healthy environment, even though I didn't change my ways there.

Where did you fit in your schools' social hierarchies?

I was a little bit of everything to everyone, which I think was experimenting with acting, in a way. In retrospect, I role-played around people: being a jock around jocks, a stoner to the stoners, and a cerebral to the cerebrals.

What was your favorite subject?

It became drama when I was fifteen. Up until then, I would have made fun of it.

If you could change one thing about education in America, what would it be?

It would be that everyone has the opportunity to go to school in a safe, healthy environment where knowledgeable, passionate people try to help them learn the things that are important to be a citizen on this planet.

What should they teach that they don't now?

I wish that there was a way to teach spirituality as an abstracted, unencumbered idea. Teach the common denominators that make us all one.

What did you teach today?

I try to teach my daughter patience. I'm trying to convey to her about channeling emotions, which is a hard thing to do. It has taken me my whole life. (Laughs.) But she'd be better off if she did, so I work on that with her.

What is in your dream lunch box?

A double cappuccino and a rotating selection from Katana, which is a restaurant in LA that I'm a little obsessed with right now.

If the prom were tomorrow, whom would you take?

My wife, Debbon.

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