Jon is from St. Louis, Missouri. From 2002 until 2005, he attended Missouri State University. In the fall of 2005, he transferred to the University of Kansas to pursue a degree in astronomy.
At that time, Kansas was involved in its "great evolution wars". Shortly after beginning at KU, the Kansas State Board of Education, in effort to push Creationism into science classrooms, redefined science, removing the requirement that explanations be testable. Attempting to understand and correct such public misunderstanding of science, Jon moved towards a focus on science outreach and education.
While at KU, Jon began his blog, The Angry Astronomer, writing about his experiences with astronomical research and skepticism. While there, he was given the Wyman Storer award which recognizes "service to the observatory and astronomy community."
He graduated with his BS in astronomy in 2008 and moved back to St. Louis to begin pursuing his certification to teach high school physics. After teaching math and science in private high schools for two years, he received his certification in 2011.
Jon was previously a contributor to the astronomy news website Universe Today. His writings there have been picked up by numerous other science news outlets including physorg and Astrobiology Magazine. He does public outreach with the St. Louis Astronomical Society. Additionally, tours several talks to regional conventions and other venues promoting science and other topics. This includes his popular "Anime Mythbusters" talk which examines the (mis)use of science in the popular Japanese animation style.
My philosophy of teaching extends from my views on general life; we cannot force education more than we can force anything else. Rather, progress is most readily made when we have willing participants that make our goals their own and seek them independently.
As the adage goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink" so too "You can lead a student to knowledge, but you cannot make him think." In eras gone by, students lived in an informational desert and thus intellectual thirst was more readily available, but in today's generation of the internet and instant communication, students have plenty of things to satiate their thirst. However, most of it is more akin to drinking energy drinks and soda pop; they may quench your thirst, but they've done nothing to actually keep one hydrated and are often more destructive than not.
Thus, teachers must teach students new habits about how to think, inspiring them to thirst for the knowledge we offer. At that point, we transform students into a school of fish, moving in a unified direction, and constantly bathing in the water of knowledge.