The first thing is, I was born. That much is clear. I'm told that I resembled a poached egg. This may or may not be an exaggeration.
We lived in an apartment building showcased in the popular magazine, Squalor. My mother was first mate on a kayak. My Pop sold Chiquita bananas on the street. Sadly, Chiquita soon had her fill of bananas, and Pop went out of business. Though a mere child, I learned to walk, talk, dress, and feed myself a gruel-like substance with a rubber-tipped spoon. [The gruel didn't have the spoon. I did.]
After many enjoyable years of intensive child psychotherapy, I recovered from Compulsive Prank Disorder, whose early symptoms included (1) staring at the ceiling and exclaiming "Look. LOOK, everybody!" (which didn't get anyone's attention because I was alone at the time) and (2) tying a person's shoe laces to their chair legs, and then watching the action when they stood up.
[Okay, I'm not completely cured. It's probably genetic. Many of my close relatives were gangsters during Prohibition. We could use a few guys like my Cousin Izzy and his Tommy Gun.]
During adolescence, me and the boys would cruise around St. Louis in those classic cars (Lester's '57 Chevy convertible, Eddie's '48 Mercury, Frankie's '56 Ford, or my Grandpa Charlie's '59 Buick convertible) trying to pick up girls (or, rather, young ladies). Our famous line was "Hey, wanna ride?" 37,000 miles and we scored once. It was Eddie's little sister and her little girl friend. Well, they weren't really so little. Average size and shape. We had ice cream at Howard Johnson's. We were so cool.
In the 1960's, I joined the National Guard infantry. Good food, outdoors, mastery of tasks, tribal, buddies, service to our nation, and guns. At first, I carried this baby---the M1 Garand. After a couple of years, this one---the Browning Automatic Rifle.
When I was done, I went back home to college and my girl friend. I should have stayed in the Army. (Silly ass.) I was good at it.
I got married, had kids, became a college professor, did lots of research, wrote books, and taught a million students.
Then 9/11/2001 happened, and I woke up. Let's just say that the Army training stayed with me.
Now the Not Interesting Stuff
I'll be perfectly honest with you. I don't know much, but the stuff I put on this website---I know it real well.
Where did I learn it? Here...
Teacher and director in the Autism Program at Washington University in St. Louis. (late ‘60s). When you design and test an educational program for kids with autism---from eye contact all the way through conversational speech---you learn how to design instruction. And the principles apply to any skill and any person.
Professor in the Department of Sociology at Boston University from 1971 to 1997. I developed and tested more programs and materials for kids with disabilities, their families, and their teachers.
Behavioral Specialist for Wayne County, Michigan, and Unit Director at the Plymouth Center for Human Development in Northville, Michigan, 1976.
I decided to move south in 1995 (tired of New England snow piling up on my face) and to work in a school of education--where I thought I'd have a wider impact.
Everything I’d heard about ed schools dominated by so-called “progressives”(who range from revolutionary Marxists seeking radical reconstruction of our nation based on their utopian fantasies, to knee-jerk liberals who serve as useful idiots for the radical left) was true. There is little connection between what teachers and schools need and what ed schools provide. Most of what ed schools (dominated by so-called progressives) do is self-promotion, putting on conferences, filling out “matrices,” getting grants for projects that do little good for schools and increase the workload of classroom teachers.
Few graduates leave knowing how to teach. And since most graduates majored in education, they don't know much about history, science, literature, philosophy, logic, geography, and economics, either.
Progressive education professors invent elaborate, fanciful (and bizarre) theories of learning and methods of instruction (e.g., whole language, politically correct math, discovery science); rarely test these beforehand, but pass them on to new teachers and to schools; and rarely evaluate them to see if they work, but stubbornly support them even when research says they are harmful.
I decided to work with a few like-minded colleagues. [Ironically, most education students--undergraduate and graduate--share my criticisms and are willing to assist my direct work in schools.] For the past 13 years, I have been
Helping schools to implement field-tested and effective curricula in language and reading; namely, Direct Instruction (Language for Learning, Reading Mastery, and Corrective Reading) and Precision Teaching.
Teaching undergraduate and graduate students exactly how to teach reading, math, history, and literature effectively.
Teaching grad students how to evaluate publications and curriculum materials, and how to do research.
Ridiculing fads: "brain-based learning" (Is there some other organ involved that we don't know about?), multiple intelligence (Substitute "skill." Does it make any difference?), whole language, portfolio assessment, discovery learning, multicultural social studies, “child-centered” methods.
Helping states to implement Reading First programs and to reform schools of education.
Not that it much matters, but I have a B.A. (Psychology, 1966), M.A. and Ph.D. (Sociology, 1969), Washington University. St. Louis. I've never taken an education course. That’s why I am still (reasonably) sane.
I have also written books on how to teach children with learning and behavior problems, and how to work with the families.
I’m putting my recent work on this website for your good use. Let me know, if you would be so kind, how to improve it.