Mike Rose is a professor in the School of Education at UCLA , earned multiple awards during his career ; Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English, the American Educational Research Association's Distinguished Lectureship, UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Grawemeyer Award in Education, and the Commonwealth Club of California Award for Literary Excellence in Nonfiction. As a child Rose grew up in a poor family in Los Angeles, during his high school years he was placed on vocational classes on accident, by mixed up test scores from another student with the same last name.
In the essay “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose, he describes his observations with his students and teachers during his accidentally placed vocational classes, the teachers were showing no interest in teaching and his class mates were not showing any interest in their education, Rose implies in his essay “The vocational track, however, is most often a place for those who are just not making it, a dumping ground for the disaffected” (Rose 13) Rose shows how the school system has written off students who have potential, his analysis of the school system specifies multiple reasons for the failure of students that go through high school misunderstood from their difficulties learning, it showed that the students were lacking the effort to learn. In Rose’s essay he talks about one of his classmates Ken Harvey, he describes this open conversation in this classroom, the topic was about working hard and being an over achiever, when in it was Harvey’s turn to talk he answered “I wanna be average”.
Ken Harvey’s “I just wanna be average” quote immediately picked up Rose’s attention! He later goes revealing how this student was gasping for air in their educational environment, as Rose Mentions in the book “No matter how bad the school, you’re going to encounter notions that don’t fit with the assumption and beliefs that you grew up with- maybe you’ll hear these dissonant notions from teachers, maybe from other students, and maybe you’ll read them” (Mike Rose 14) Since the vocational track is the dumping ground for those students who can’t make it, Harvey was discouraged because in his school he was labeled “slow”, as that could’ve lowered his morale, Harvey was rotecting himself from the pressure of school by defying himself as a regular person, and it doesn’t help that the fact that the teachers in the vocational track did nothing to help motivate the student. Rose states that there was hardly any who worked hard at their education, however Brother Slattery used his stern voice and his weekly quizzes to engage the imagination of those kids who were at the “bottom of the pond”. One of my academic weak points is algebraic related activity , during my Senior year I was taking a junior math class Algebra 3-4, my first period class that I would get through in the morning, me a morning person? I would show up half asleep, if I stayed awake I was zoning out.
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The high school that I graduated from had the block schedule system so the classes would have been two hours and thirty minutes long, I dreaded the block schedule system especially when I had Algebra, as furthermore it would feel like an eternity. I’ve spent a good 75% doing something else that would contradict my learning, doodling on my notes or socializing with the people around me. Every time we would learn a new course I tried to give my full attention to the lesson because it would almost be like a fresh start but in the end it would ended up with me not fully understanding the lesson, so a new course would come up this pattern would repeat itself, so I would get a little frustrated every time that would develop.
It got to the point where the requirements of the new course would require the information from the previous course to learn it, that’s how I got stuck along with the interest to care anymore. Unfortunately that type of not caring was labeled as “Senioritis” it happens to every Senior they say, but I wasn’t going to blame it on “Senioritis” because I have experience that similar uninteresting feeling for my education before my Senior year. I can’t remember the name of my Algebra 3-4 teacher but I do remember a friend that I made there who sat next to me, his name was Adam he seemed very brilliant and strong academically but he wasn’t so good with the ladies.
My algebra teacher never took the time to grade our homework, what she would do was make the student plus the person sitting next to you grade each other’s homework, she would put out the answers on her white board, as she would expect every student to grade the other students homework. Adam and I had an alliance with each other, as we took advantage of that situation, I would scratch his back and he would scratch mine by writing the correct answers down or just filling out the homework right there, sometimes I didn’t even take the time to do my homework I would let Adam fill out the paper for me. Adam continued to perfectly learn in that class he would sometimes end up with one or two mistakes in his homework, but he really wanted straight A’s, I would correct his mistakes for him as he would do the same for me.
That homework grading system seemed to me as a huge flaw for her students learning, if she took the time to look at our answers, study our equations that we wrote down she could’ve traced the mistake, point it out, ask why we messed up and showed us the correct way to solve the problem I think that would’ve helped some people out. So the fourth quarter finally arrives, my Algebra 3-4 grades are on the edge of failing, my counselor advocated that I should stay after school with a tutor, which I hated the fact that I had to stay after school for more math, which the thought in my mind was “I’m not going to learn anything and just waste time”, that was quite the opposite of what was going to happened, I met a tall man with glasses always seemed full of energy, I think his name was Larry (I can’t remember names).
Every day after school I would meet up with Larry in a classroom with a few other kids from every type of different math class ranging from basic math to trigonometry, Larry would sit down and help every single student one by one, he seemed like he was vey content teacher, every time Larry would sit next to me I would actually learn or understand all this gibberish that we call algebra, he would approach me with a different attitude way different compared to my Algebra teacher. Now when I think about that situation I was in, I would sit in my first period class for 2 hours and 30 minutes while having difficulties understanding, but now in my tutoring class I would only sit for 45 minutes and everything seemed clear to me. The situation that those students from Rose’s essay they’re intelligence are not limited, a bad teacher can make school such a frustrating experience student won’t learn much, understanding t a teacher’s teaching style can sometimes not work with the students.
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