[Banner photo above taken by Susan Porter Bruce on a hill above Fourth Debsconeag Lake in Maine in July, 2007.]
This page is more for family and personal information. See also my professional bio.
My full name is Bertram Camp Bruce, Jr. My father was Bertram Camp Bruce and his father was Bertram Carr Bruce. My father started calling himself Bert Bruce, Jr. to distinguish himself from his father. So, there I was, a real junior, who’s own father called himself junior. All of this was before I was aware of much at all. To avoid confusion, my parents chose a nickname. First, it was Chipper, which many old friends still use. Then later, it became Chip.
Here’s a personal history for anyone who might care to know:
I was born at Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas on September 26, 1946. In January, 1950, the family moved to Fort Worth. Shortly after, my father opened Bruce Piano Company in the old Binyon O’Keefe warehouse on Fifth Avenue. The store later becomes the authorized Steinway dealer and provided pianos for performers visiting the Fort Worth Symphony and Opera. That May18 my sister Karen was born.
As a three-year-old, I enrolled in the Frisky and Blossom Club at the Fort Worth Children’s Museum. Over the next ten years, I participated in other clubs and classes devoted to insects, rocks & fossils, and stars. I was then a student at Westcliff Elementary School, On July 10, 1954, my sister Susan was born.
I then attended McLean Junior High School and Paschal High School. As a teenager, I joined a very unusual Explorer Post (Boy Scout Troop for older boys). A couple of good friends who belonged assured me that it was fun, but they couldn’t have known how profoundly I would be affected by my experiences there, among them, the Explorer Post booklist [story]
I did undergraduate studies in Biology at Rice University, Houston, Texas. My introduction to Rice was through Joseph I. Davies. I was a visiting high-school student and he engaged me in an unforgettable conversation about the need for world government. As a biology major, I did not take his fabled Biology 100 course, but I did sit in on some of his lectures, including the opening one in which he threw live frogs into the auditorium seats. Amidst all the screams, he would ask “What is life? What makes us know that these objects are living things?” His final lecture of the year, and of his life, was on the meaning of evolution.
During 1968-71, I was a graduate student in Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. My dissertation was entitled The logical structure underlying temporal references in natural language.
I then became an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at Rutgers University for three years, and following that, a Principal Scientist at Bolt Beranek & Newman in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While at BBN, I helped write the proposal for the Center for the Study of Reading. It was established at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by the National Institute of Education in response to the growing concern about the quality of reading instruction in American schools. The proposal became the basis for the book, Theoretical issues in reading comprehension: Perspectives from cognitive psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, and education.
I worked on various kinds of software in areas such as aritficial intelligence and technology-enhanced learning. An important project was Quill—a software package developed to foster an environment for literacy in classrooms. The software, teacher’s guide, and workshops were used widely, including in village schools in Alaska, which I visited three times during the project. Andee Rubin and I wrote a book, Electronic Quills: A situated evaluation of using computers for writing in classrooms, which looks in detail at the stories of early users.
Science for the People means recognizing the political nature of science; it means access for all people to useful human knowledge; it means the organizing of women and men in science to struggle along with other communities aimed at fundamental social change.
In 1990, I became a Professor at the University of Illinois, first in Curriculum & Instruction in the College of Education for ten years, and then for another ten in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, now known as the School of Information Science. I’m now a Professor Emeritus.
Soon after arriving in Illinois, I joined the Dialogues in Methods of Education (DIME) group. DIME members have studied together how to improve their own teaching practices through research, the sharing of ideas, and mutual support. They have also engaged in critical analysis of the disciplinary and institutional forces shaping their work. The history of DIME shows the importance of accommodating difference in sustaining community.
I had a sabbatical in 1996-97 with major stays in Beijing, China and Brisbane, Australia. There were stops in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, California, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, and Wales along the way. Another sabbatical, in 2004-05, was in Europe, mostly around Paris and in Germany through a joint NSF/DFG project. In 2007-08 I held a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the National College of Ireland in Dublin. At other times, I’ve had extended projects in Turkey, China, Romania, Nepal, and other places.
On August 14, 1982, Susan Porter and I married in Aunt Polly‘s backyard in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Susan has been a middle school teacher, a developer at the Boston Children’s Museum, a research supporter at the University of Illinois. She was active with UC Books to Prisoners, a project providing books to Illinois inmates by mail and operating libraries in two local county jails. Today, she is a community leader in Wellfleet, active with many organizations, and is now President of the Friends of the Wellfleet Public Library.
We have two children, Emily and Stephen, who both grew up in the Champaign-Urbana area. They went to Leal Elementary and University Laboratory High School, but also spent time in other schools, as in Brisbane, Australia.
Our daughter Emily earned a BA in History at Williams College in 2007 and a PhD in European History at the University of Minnesota, focusing on children’s literature in 19th century Germany. She’s now an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris campus. Our son Stephen graduated from Yale, worked for a year with Americorps as a patient navigator for a Russian language community, and later taught English in Moscow for a year. He’s now in a Slavic Studies program at Columbia.
Susan and I now live in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, too far from family and friends!
There are ponds, hills, forests, sand dunes, beaches, and little rivers. There’s also boundless wildlife–ospreys, swans, wild turkeys, and smaller birds, dolphins, sharks, whales, turtles, river herring, and other sea creatures. On land there are deer, rabbits, raccoons, coyotes, and even a leucistic fox.