Craig Rusbult ,

my life on a road less traveled

Craig Rusbult - photo  

Through 2012, I was teaching part-time in the Chemistry Dept at UW-Madison.  A decade later, I'm living in a new city and in the near future I hope to begin creative collaborations with other educators who want to develop teaching methods (in curriculum & instruction) that will help students improve their creative-and-critical thinking skills so they can more effectively perform (now) and learn (for later in life), so they can do self-education (by learning from experiences) and problem solving (by making things better) more effectively.  Ideas for doing this are explored in a website – Education for Problem Solving (by using Design-Thinking Process) – that is an extension of my PhD work, which was...

a unifying synthesis of ideas (mainly from scientists and philosophers, but also from sociologists, psychologists, historians, educators, and myself) into a model of scientific method, and an application of this model for the integrative analysis of a creative classroom in which students solved problems by using science-inquiry.  You can see an overview of both parts – for the model of science process and then using this model to analyze instruction, for the purpose of developing knowledge that will help us design education that is more effective – in a Table of Contents that may have set a record for the longest T-of-C in a doctoral dissertation.   Also, I juggled during its oral defense (why?) and that may not happen very often,   🙂 

BS in Chemistry, University of California, Irvine
MS in Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle
MA in History of Science, Univ of Wisconsin, Madison
PhD in Curriculum & Instruction, U of Wisconsin, Madison


        some motivations and goals:  I'm an enthusiastic educator who enjoys discussing ideas with other educators.  Improving our education — by designing better ways to teach & learn, so we can improve our thinking and doing — is one of the most important things we can do.  And it's fun!  I'm especially interested in designing education that will help more students improve their ability to solve problems (to make things better) in all areas of life.  In fact, one of my main motivations for moving from Madison to Columbus, in May 2022, was to network with other educators and begin cooperative collaborations to pursue our shared goal of making things better by improving our Education for Problem Solving and also for Music Improvising and in other areas of life.

       my academic history, during life on a road less traveled:
       Intellectually, I've been productive due to inherited intelligence, developing this potential through education (formal & informal), and hard work.* 
       Professionally, I've followed “a road less traveled” instead of the typical academic path, and I have mixed feelings about the results of my road less traveled, because "intellectually, I've been highly productive" but "despite developing many great ideas... in a wide range of areas, so far these ideas aren't widely known or used."
       What was the road, and how did I begin traveling it?  As a chemistry major, I enjoyed learning and did well, getting two American Chemical Society “best student” awards (for all high schools of Orange County CA, then for UC Irvine) and received a fellowship for graduate study from the National Science Foundation.  But during graduate school in Seattle at my first UW, for various reasons — mainly academic immaturity (playing too much in my fascinating new city, but not studying enough) and an incomplete mental awakening (I discovered creativity but not discipline & commitment) and an intellectual preference for generalization (instead of the specialization expected in grad school) — I decided to not pursue a career in research chemistry.
       * This combination (of genetics, education, work) has led to getting academic awards & fellowships, 800s (highest possible scores) in GRE Exams (for college graduates applying to grad school) in Math & Verbal, and having high intellectual productivity by writing about a wide range of topics in many web-pages;  a few of these are linked to at the end of this page, and many more are in my home-page.
       After leaving graduate school, I traveled and worked and played, along with lots of reading & thinking, and developed a passion for communicating ideas through writing.*   Later I enrolled in the History of Science program at the University of Wisconsin, but even though I enjoy history, and liked the historians at UW, I never felt like a historian;  during our first semester a fellow grad student began a sentence, "We historians think...", and my internal response was that “it's an interesting concept – WE historians – but it doesn't feel like me.”  By contrast, since high school I had occasionally taught (tennis, chemistry, physics) and often thought about the process of thinking, so when I entered the program for Science Education at UW the concept of “we educators” struck a resonant chord in me;  it feels natural, is intellectually stimulating, and has provided the freedom & flexibility to pursue my continuing generalist interests.  I enjoy education – it's how we teach and learn, so we can improve our thinking & doing – and I think it's an essential aspect of life, is one of the most important things we do.  It's also fun.  I enjoy exchanging ideas with other educators, and cooperating with them in our efforts to improve education, especially with formal education in schools but also with informal education outside schools.
       * My "passion for... writing" has been a major influence in my life — and I've invested LOTS of time in writing — from 1975 until now.  This dedication has produced many benefits, but also some "mixed feelings about the results."

       teaching experience:  mostly chemistry & physics, but also mathematics, problem-solving strategies, ESL, tennis, juggling, music improvising & theory, ballroom dancing;  mostly in classes but also in other ways, including summertime “chemistry camps” and by individual tutoring (in physics, chemistry, calculus);
       special interests in education:  helping students improve their thinking skills (creatively generating & critically evaluating ideas,...) and the process we use for solving problems in science & design;  visual representations of ideas, and teaching scientific concepts;
       living locations:  small towns in Iowa until 1962 when I was 14,  Anaheim CA (plus Newport Beach & UC Irvine during 3 school-years of college) until 1970,  Seattle most of 1970-89 (except for 4 years, scattered thru time, at home in Anaheim, plus multi-month living in Eugene and Corvallis, with shorter times in Santa Cruz, Madison & Milwaukee),  then Madison 1989-2013,  Anaheim 2013-2020 to be a caregiver for Mom & Dad, and now back in Madison for awhile, before moving to Columbus in May 2022.   {yes, I like college towns, including now in Columbus with OSU}
       favorite movieIt's a Wonderful Life, partly for its artistic value (plot, dialogue, acting,...) but mainly for the message:  Each of us affects other people, and life is better if we affect others in ways that are beneficial for them, that help them become better people who are developing their full potential, living in ways that are beneficial for others, and enjoying life.

       I have mixed feelings about the results of my road less traveled.
       Intellectually, I've been highly productive.  Professionally, I haven't followed the standard path.  The result of this combination is that, despite developing many great ideas – at least they're great in my evaluations (that are biased, but probably are not wrong) – in a wide range of areas, so far these ideas aren't widely known or used, and my life doesn't summarize well on a curriculum vitae.*  This is partly because instead of writing for scholarly journals or in books, during the last two decades I've focused on writing for the web, which I think can be (when all things are considered) a superior way to communicate ideas, but unfortunately web-writing doesn't get much credit among scholars.  A more general explanation is that I haven't been a skilled “salesman” for my ideas.  Although the product is strong, the marketing has been weak.  My actual intellectual productivity has been high, but the perception of productivity (by others) has been lower.  This contrast between reality and perception is frustrating, but I think it's temporary, and in the future my work will be more widely known & used.
       * For example, while living in Madison (a university city) people sometimes ask “are you a professor?” and I explain that “if I had made different decisions earlier in life, I would be, but I didn't so I'm not.”  Being a professor would have been a good match for my abilities, work ethic, and interests (because I'm intelligent, hard working, and enjoy learning, thinking & writing, teaching) but – because of my decisions and the resulting life path – this didn't happen.   /  an update:  After thinking about this more deeply, I'm wondering if my claim is justified.  I'm imagining that it would have been a challenge for me to make it successfully thru the first 5 years, to get university tenure.  Why?  Because I like to write about a wide variety of topics.  Although most of this has been different aspects of thinking-learning-teaching, so it's all related to education, it hasn't been the kind of “focused creativity” that is wanted by academic journals and tenure-granting departments, in their standards for scholarly research & writing.  Probably I would have been able to adjust my choice of topics and style of writing, but I'm not certain.  And this would have greatly decreased the variety in my writing.  It would have been better in some ways, worse in others.  As with many things in life.   /   Also, to work as a professor in an education department, typically they require 3 years of K-12 teaching experience;  I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed this, or would have been willing to do it.  I thought about this, and decided it would be much better if instead I did “research studies” by visiting many classrooms, and talking with teachers & students & parents & others, asking them to share their experiences so I could learn from them.  I think this would have been fun, and very educational, for me and for them.  Maybe a department of education would have let me do this instead of the typical “3 years of K-12” but I never applied for this kind of job, never asked anyone about it, and have never done this kind of researching.  So I'll never know what might have happened.   /   And considering all aspects of life, would I have enjoyed being a professor?  I'm sure that my early years of teaching — the first 3 years of K-12 (if I did this) and the first 5 years in a university (maybe longer) — would have been filled with 80-hour work weeks, without enough sleep.  Even though I would have been busy doing things I enjoyed, the stress of “too much work and not enough play, plus not enough sleep” would not have been fun.  Well, that's enough of speculative “what if” imaginings.  In reality,...

        On most days, when I wake in the morning I'm free to think about ideas that are wonderfully exciting.  To make money for food and rent, in Madison my paying job was teaching chemistry.  I've enjoyed teaching, but it has taken valuable time from working on education, and I consider education (not teaching) to be my main vocation.  During the spring & summer of 2011 and 2012, and in all seasons since January 2013, I've been able to do full-time writing, mainly to develop ideas for education in my website about Education for Problem Solving.  This has been a satisfying experience — because I can wake in the morning and continue working on ideas from the previous day (and week, month,...) which allows “mental momentum” that is useful in many ways — and these have been times of high productivity.  In the future I hope to work cooperatively with other educators in creative collaborations, to actualize our ideas (mine and theirs) by converting these ideas into action, with the goal of improving education so it's more effective in helping students learn valuable ideas-and-skills.

        Why am I enthusiastic about education?  Because the essence of living — the meaningful activities we do in our everyday thinking & learning, and in the teaching (of self & others) that helps all of us learn from our experiences in lifeis education, when it's broadly defined as learning from life-experiences.
With this view of education, every person is an educator-of-self, and (in many situations) an educator-of-others.  You are a learner (doing internal education) and a teacher (doing external education).  You are being a teacher whenever you help another person get more life-experiences and/or learn more from their life-experiences.  During our daily living, every person sometimes does some teaching, informally.  But instead of viewing our actions as “teaching others” a perspective that's better because it's more humbly respectful (and more accurate) is “helping others learn” by their own actions, with us merely serving as facilitators who provide educationally-useful experiences.  We usually do this by just living in ways that make their experiences more personally beneficial, more effective in helping them learn how to fully develop their whole-person potentials.       { also: a broad definition of problem solving and producing more experiences with more learning plus teaching with empathy so – as in my favorite movie & my sister's ideas – we can help others achieve their goals }

My twitter-profile for @DTprocess — "educator (PhD in C&I) using model of creative/critical Design-Thinking Process [= DTprocess] for Education + bike, juggle, dance, improv, sport-science, ESL" (links for these are below*) — includes an aerial view of Madison.     { And my youtube channel – with videos of my juggling and our joyfully cute dog – also is @DTprocess. }

more links:  Some page-links are below, but...
you can see a much wider variety in my overall home-page.

Using Design Process for Problem Solving and Education , 
Building Bridges to improve Confidence, Motivation, Transfer ,
plus Accurate Understanding and Respectful Attitudes and 
why so many people respected and loved my sister, Caryl ; 
stories (welding, Cliffs Notes, joy of science) and a portfolio. 

Using Prayer for Problem Solving (for “doing it better” in life)
    as described in some of my favorite verses from The Bible.

* Musical Improvisation + Theory & Education for Improvising
& Power Tools for Problem Solving in Physics & new homes
& how I didn't learn to ski (and then did, by using an insight)
and teaching ESL & Ballroom Dancing (transfer) & Juggling
plus a Juggling Video-and-Photos   ( Arts & Sports )   C.V.
a younger Satchel Paige Age (slowing the rate of slowdown)
    plus my sports (tennis, football,...) & Anteater Olympiad ,
and links for many topics in art-science and sport-science.


This page, by Craig Rusbult (craigru178-att-yahoo-daut-caum),
( everything in my website is Copyright © by Craig Rusbult )

The cartoon was drawn by Frank Clark (along with skiing & tree cutting) in 1982,
who (many years later) is now Creative Director of Square Tomato Advertising in Seattle.