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Bruce Deitrick Price Bio & Two True Stories

 
 Bruce Price is a novelist, painter, poet and education activist.

Born in Norfolk, Va. Graduated from Norfolk Academy and Princeton (with Honors in English Literature). Two years in Army. Lived in Manhattan for many years. Author of five books. Operated small design firm (Word-Wise Creative)--which is still kicking. Has had seven solo art shows.

Returned to Norfolk in 1996. Focused on digital art and got in 35+ juried art shows in a dozen states. Wrecked left hand from so much digital, then explored drawing with right hand. Aesthetic in all arts is playful and experimental. The practices of a lifetime have culminated in the new paintings/constructions called Small Universes.

Aside from the arts, main activity is Improve- Education.org, which is now up to 65 articles and 125,000 words of original content about robots, sophistry, Latin, phonics, 1984, Pavlov, birds, English usage, design, and the foolish things that our Education Establishment does.
 
He also has 300 articles and videos on many other sites. The best parts of these articles have been collected into a book called THE EDUCATION ENIGMA--What Happened to American Education. To see Contents, click here. (Note, this collection was published in 2009. Price is now putting together a second and larger collection tentatively titled "What have they done to our public schools?") 

Listed in Who's Who in America 2014. Member of PEN and Mensa.
 

To see the art mentioned above, visit ArtNorfolk.com
 
To see sampling of literary work, visit Lit4u.com 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Education Enigma

EXPLAINS THE PROBLEMS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
TRUE STORY: early in 2008, a student (in high school, I think) found me on the internet, probably because Google makes no distinction between "education activist" and "activist educator." Never mind. I was honored that a student might want to write a paper about me. So here's my verbatim response, which tells a lot about education and my work, in not that many words:

 
"I’m honored you chose me as your activist.

But I probably need to clarify some terms. I’m not a social activist who works through education. Jonathan Kozol does that. Indeed, the entire educational establishment does that! Which is precisely the problem that I write about. All of these people are supposedly devoted to making sure children have a good education. Unfortunately, many of them are far more obsessed with making sure that children have only politically correct opinions.

My interest in education is much more mundane and utilitarian. Say you’re driving down the street and you see some carpenters making a crooked house. Your first thought would be, why don’t they do that right? That house won’t be safe to live in. Maybe I should go over and tell them how to do it the correct way. Anyway, that’s how I react. I hate to see so-called carpenters building a useless house. Public schools in America can often be described as crooked houses.

So the correct term for me is education activist, with the emphasis on education. And I use the activist label somewhat ironically. Liberals think they are the only activists. In fact, I’m a conservative activist. I stand for clarity and honesty in language, truth and precision in science, hard work and discipline in every field. Most of all, I value facts and knowledge. See how sadly we have degenerated? Those attitudes are almost taboo in some schools.

So you wouldn’t want to interview me unless you are interested specifically in how to make schools more effective. I just added an article to my site called 38: Saving Public Schools -- A New Paradigm. This tells you everything you need to know about my research. It’s fairly aggressive.

In an earlier article called 26: How To Teach History, etc., I discussed how the individual classroom could teach much more in less time. I’m totally fascinated by the whole concept of doing a better job educationally. I always have this absurd confidence that I can teach anything faster than anybody else in the world -- I don’t mean teach it personally but organize the class for maximum success. Let’s say you have 100 kids and 1000 bits of information. How do you organize the class for the most pleasant and successful completion of this task? Obviously some ways will be much more ingenious and successful than other ways. Our so-called educators should be focused on finding those better ways. For example, just this last week I was thinking about the challenge of explaining professional football to people from other countries (who don’t know our football) and to older ladies who have no knowledge of or interest in football. Wow, that’s an interesting challenge. What, for example, would you tell them first?

Now go back and look at the letter you wrote to me. As well as I can remember, there’s no concern in this letter for education as the term used to be used. Everything you want to ask about is politics, morality, ideology, etc. Opinions and feelings, basically. That complete shift away from trying to create effective schools is the main tragedy that has befallen our country in the last 50 years. Maybe I should apologize for being cynical, but it really seems to me sometimes that many teachers and many schools would be perfectly happy if children learned nothing at all except to hate Bush and fear global warming. The whole point of real education is that at the end you are able to evaluate sentiments such as those--that is, argue the pros and cons back and forth.

Well, I am able to put down all these words because I have dictation software. So it’s almost fun to take some ideas out for a spin. You’ll at least have a lot to think about.

Good luck with it."



POSTSCRIPT: the student did write the paper about me and claimed the teacher "liked it"...but she wouldn't show it to me, shamefully enough. Otherwise, it'd be here now.

filler

 
A Literary Contest

TRUE STORY TWO: The Muskogee Area Literacy Council announced a contest (Sept., 2009). The goal was to write something with "The Power of Literacy" as its theme. The composition had to contain the Chinese proverb "A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." I couldn't resist this odd challenge...Alas, for reasons entirely inexplicable, the Oklahomans didn't crown me winner. Never mind. I proudly put my entry here as entertainment for all ages. I want to invite you to use this any way you can--I believe it would be a good reading assignment for kids. 

 
Enchanted Gardens (A Story)

“I’ll tell you a Chinese proverb.” The librarian, looking pleased with herself, smiled at the circle of children, “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket! Isn’t that wonderful?”

The children reacted with horror. One said, “A garden is dirty.” Another objected, “It’s full of insects. Bees! Fire ants will sting you.” A third child settled the matter: “There’s nothing to do in a garden.”

The librarian was aghast. Her mind turned somersaults. “Oh...well...I meant to say, a book is like a...racing car. Yes, a Grand Prix racing car!”

“Really?” the children gushed.

“Yes! The most beautiful red shiny racing car you have ever seen. It has the power of  one thousand horses. It goes faster than a blink. You can go from HERE all the way to THERE in a second. To any destination you can imagine.”

“Well,” one child murmured, “that’s more like it.”

“It’s so red,” two children screamed in unison. “And so shiny. And so-so-so fast!”

The librarian felt intoxicated with success. “You’ll always find adventure,” she beamed. “A book is like a huge and exotic city. Suddenly you are in Paris! Filled with romance. Or Istanbul--ah, the intrigue of an international crossroads. Or Tokyo, where the neon signs are like gaudy Niagara Falls. Millions of people move around you. You feel their hopes, their loves, their dreams--”

 “And,” one of the children wondered, “you can put this city in your pocket?”

The librarian was not to be denied. She clapped her hands so hard all the children jumped. “Of course you can. With books there are no limits! I said N-O, and that rhymes with GO. You can go wherever you want. Why, a book is like a towering three-stage rocket that can carry you to the moon. All the way to Mars. Var-roomm!! Feel the roar of the engines as you lift off from Cape Canaveral and fly through space. You are bold explorers of new worlds. Where do you want to go? That’s exactly where you can go.”

The children thought deeply.

“Outer space,” one worried with a shiver. “Isn’t it cold?”

“And dangerous! What if Mars is full of dragons?”

“Or fire ants,” another speculated, “but really big. They just stare at you, and you catch on fire!”

“Spiders the size of houses! Ahhh. I’m scared.”

“Oh, no!...I’m exhausted from all this traveling.”

“Maybe,” a fourth child ventured to suggest, “a garden isn’t so bad. You can curl up there.”

“Yes,” her best friend exclaimed. “There are so many beautiful flowers to enjoy.”

The librarian and the children joined hands. They danced in a circle. “The sun,” she intoned, “shines down through green trees. Birds sing crystal melodies.”

The youngest child mused: “There’s a magical pond where goldfish swim in deep shadows. I like that.”

“Here it is,” a boy laughed, holding up a book. “My very own garden!”

"Enchanted Gardens" is available via Creative Commons. Please credit Bruce Deitrick Price.

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