Lives on the Boundary: A Response to Mike Rose

When I first picked up Mike Rose’s book Lives on the Boundary I felt sort of put off about it at first. I thought it was going to be the same sort of stuff that I’ve been reading in my education class last semester. Basically I expected to feel some sort of guilt trip for having grown up on the more privileged side of the school system (because I’ve often felt that way after reading stories of less fortunate children). However, Rose’s book has surprised me.

The way Rose describes his experiences in this book seem so accessible that anyone who reads it can feel a connection; including myself (I think I used that semicolon wrong but we are going to move past that). I particularly enjoyed the chapter “Literate Stirrings”. In this chapter, Rose talks about the first group of students he taught in the projects. What I liked was how the chapter focused on the students more than Rose himself. Through the eyes of the writer the reader gets to experience the lives of multiple children and their individual struggles in the school system.

Obviously majority of these children were labeled as “problem children” or “below average”. Essentially, these were children who had given up on the school system and whom the school system had given up on. The way Rose approaches these children is truly a joy to read (I would say inspiring but I typically don’t like that word). By reaching out and giving these children the sort of attention that they need, it is evident to the reader of a sort of “literate stirring” among them. It just reminds me of why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. I believe that to give students (particularly the ones the school system has given up on) a second chance at finding something that speaks to them in school, then we as educators have done our job.

Until next time,

Anna B.

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About spiffybanana24

I'm just an English Education student learning to take things one day at a time.

One thought on “Lives on the Boundary: A Response to Mike Rose

  1. jesslinn says:

    Anna,
    I have to say that I completely agree with you on the book. I wasn’t really looking forward to reading it either for the exact same reason. I didn’t want to feel guilty for being the “privileged white american” and all that jazz. I’m really glad that I’m not the only one!

    I also agree that the information is accessible to the readers, but I think that in some places he seems to go off on tangents. To me, that makes what he’s trying to get at rather lengthy, and I personally am the type of person who would rather get to the point than draw anything out longer than it needs to be.
    He is a great writer though, and it’s clear that he’s knowledgeable on this topic. Reading his encounters and experiences makes me think that, if/when we become teachers, there will be points in our careers where we will encounter students like the ones the Mike Rose talks about. It’s good insight, and therefore I think it’s an invaluable part of our reading this year. I’m glad Mr. G picked it for us to read!
    ~*Jess

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