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Brian D. Rude, 2005
Age 61, M.S. mathematics, South Dakota State University, 2001 As stated at the top of my home page, I am a frustrated author. I have been writing most of my life, but have not been successful at getting published. This web site is a cheap way of being published in at least a minimal way.
I would like to say I have been a teacher all my life, but that is not quite true. After graduating from college in 1961 (U. of Missouri at Columbia, math major, music minor) I taught for a total of six years. I think it is common knowledge that what is taught in education courses has little applicability to real life. Unless one is fortunate enough to have a really helpful mentor, one learns how to teach the hard way, from experience. That was certainly the case with me. I was probably not a very good teacher at the beginning. I think I quickly learned how to convey subject matter, but handling discipline problems was not easy. I am not a very good policeman, and being a policeman is an important part of being a teacher in most cases. However in struggling with my problems I very quickly began to figure things out, to form ideas in my mind that were either at variance with conventional wisdom, as taught in education courses, or were simply and utterly unaddressed in education courses. Perhaps most importantly I learned how to handle discipline problems. I'm not saying I ever got very good at it in practice. Being a policeman does not come naturally to me. I would accomplish with very careful thought and at high psychological cost what others would seem to accomplish easily by just doing what comes naturally. But I thought my analysis of such things would be very valuable to others, especially others who, like myself, are not naturally policemen. These ideas eventually resulted in my book, "Tactics And Strategies Of Classroom Discipline". This book, in its entirity, is on my website, as well as an account of how I got it published, titled "My Encounter With Subsidy Publishing".
In 1970-72 I taught in a prison school. Instruction in this situation was much more individualized than is possible in most classroom teaching situations. Because of this I began to see details and perspectives of teaching and learning that I had not seen before. And it was about this time that I began to try to get these ideas down on paper. Much of the first few chapters in my book, which I havenít really titled yet, but will probably call ďPrinciples of Teaching And LearningĒ, derive from this prison school experience.
I was only at this prison school job for two years. Then my wife graduated from college and we moved on. She wanted to work, and I wanted to go back to school and study animal behavior. I didnít get too far in that endeavor, but I took enough science courses to teach science in high school. I did that for one year, 1975-75, which was my last public school job.
After 1976 I was basically an at-home parent until our kids were grown. In the nineties I was not doing well in job hunting, so thought about getting back in math. I went to graduate school at the nearest college that offered a masters degree in math. That was a seventy-five mile commute to Brookings, SD. I wasnít a bit sure I could pull that off. Iíve always thought I was reasonably smart, but the competition at that level of math was going to be a little smarter. And perhaps more importantly, there are different ways of being smart. I have always been good at figuring things out on my own, but when it comes to learning quickly and easily, many others have me beat.
I did get my degree. I spent three years doing what I had planned to do in two, but Iím not complaining. My experience as a graduate teaching assistant convinced me that teaching college level math was exactly what I wanted to do. I very much liked the good parts of teaching in high school and junior high, but I didnít like the bad parts. Being a policeman is a very minor part of college teaching. So I concluded I should stick to college teaching.
After graduating in 2001 with a masters degree in math I taught for two years at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud Minnesota. I liked this job very much, and felt I was good at it. Unfortunately most college teaching jobs for a person such as myself are temporary. They are one-year positions, often called ďfixed termĒ positions, with careful stipulation that nothing should be expected beyond that one year. As things worked out I was rehired the second year. However the third year there were six fixed term teachers but only three slots to fill. I did not get one of those slots.
I did find a similar job in North Dakota State University. Unfortunately this did not work out well. It was very frustrating and I was not hired for a second year. (See my article on NDSU Math.) Since my wife and I did not want to relocate I ended up in my present position, working the evening shift in a window factory in Fargo. It is not a bad job, but there is nothing professional about it. Thus my time in North Dakota has been very frustrating. I hope to get back into teaching at some point, but I surely donít know when or how.
I realized somewhere in middle age that I really am a scientist, in at least one sense, and perhaps also a philosopher. I like to figure things out. And one very important thing I have figured out (see my article, "Rules And Methods Of Science") is that simple, accurate, and comprehensive description is a basis for any science, a necessary basis utterly lacking in the field of education. If I could figure out a way to get paid to go into schools, sit and observe math classes, and then write up a readable description and analysis of what actually happens in the classroom, I would be doing the world a great favor as well as making myself happy. But I don't see much prospect of that happening.
I have much more to get on my website as time permits. But that will be slow in coming. At the present I donít seem to get much more done than getting to work each day.
I do get emails from readers of my website now and then, and I very much welcome them. In fact, it really makes my day. I try to reply, but I am not quick. It often happens that a reader will ask a simple question about math education. A reply will begin to form in my mind. But the reply expands in my mind to a size that I simply cannot get down on paper. The time is simply not available to me. Thus I am faced with the choice of giving a very abbreviated reply, or no reply at all, or a reply delayed by weeks or months.
More to come as time permits.