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I Just Wanna Be Average Summary Essay

How do teachers get students in American to become motivated? How can teachers make students feel as though they can actually put their stamp on this world? How can teachers help students discover their deep potential that lies in everyone? One could argue that all teachers have to do is care. There’s a disconnect in the world today between the moderately literate, the most literate, and those that are just left behind. America’s educational system is deeply flawed and a perfect example is a very eye opening short story called “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose(1989).

Mike Rose explains his short stint in the Vocational track, where kids go who can’t quite make it in America’s public schools. The only reason why Rose ended up going to this school because his test scores were mixed with another student’s, which right there shows how scattered and out of sorts America’s educational system is. Rose went to school in a part of Los Angeles that has long been neglected by the most literate of America. In Jean Anyon’s, Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum this would be described as a “working class school”(1980).

He describes his Sophomore English teacher Mr. Mitropetros as “a large bejeweled man who managed a parking lot at the Shrine Auditorium” (Rose, 1989, p. 2). Just from that description alone the readers gets the idea that this teacher does not have his heart completely in teaching, but rather teaching for him is just a job for him to pay the bills. If students today are to succeed they first need to have teachers that actually care about their education.

These “working class schools” (Anyon, 1980, para. ) just worry about passing these kids and making sure they become functionally literate which is explained by Knoblauch as a type of literacy which has a pragmatic emphasis on readying people for the necessities of everyday life”(Knoblauch, 1990, p. 3). These vocational schools have an agenda to just make sure that students are smart enough to get a simple job and just be a cog in America’s economic system. So how are kids from these areas supposed to accomplish their dreams when teachers don’t even show them that their dreams are possible?

There are so many forms of literacy and it’s practically impossible to just confine someone to just being literate. Although Mike Rose wasn’t getting the the proper teaching at this vocational school he learned a lot from observing his lassmates. There was a “cultural literacy” (Knoblauch, 1990, p. 4) that Rose was becoming proficient at by becoming friends with all these kids that came from all over the city. He described the kids he talked to everyday on his bus to school: There was Christy Biggars, who, at sixteen, was dealing and was, according to rumor, a pimp as well.

There were Bill Cobb and Johnny Gonzales, grease-pencil artists extraordinaire, who left Nembutal-enhanced swirls of “Cobb” and “Johnny” on the corrugated walls of the bus. And then there was Tyrrell Wilson. Tyrrell was the coolest kid I knew. He ran the dozens like a etric halfback, laid down a rap that out rhymed and outpointed Cobb, whose rap was good but not great-the curse of a moderately soulful kid trapped in white skin.

But it was Cobb who would sneak a radio onto the bus, and thus underwrote his patter with Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, the Coasters, and Ernie K. Doe’s mother-in-law, an awful woman who was “sent from down below. ” And so it was that Christy and Cobb and Johnny G. and Tyrrell and I and assorted others picked up along the way passed our days in the back of the bus, a funny mix brought together by geography and parental desire. (Rose, 1989, p. ) One could argue at this point he was learning more from these kids everyday than his actual teachers. In several ways cultural literacy (Knoblauch, 1990, p. 4) can be very necessary. It may not be able to provide most of the information needed in a classroom environment, but it provides an important “social cohesion” (Knoblauch, 1990, p. ).

Being culturally literate can only take you so far though. Rose talks about one of his classmates, Ted Richards (Rose, 1989, p. 3) as a kid who loved to read anything he could get his hands on and would ” have conversations with uncles or hobos or businessmen he’d meet n a coffee shop” (Rose, 1989, p. 3). Rose would go on to say, “Ted was developing into one of those rough-hewn intellectuals whose sources are a mix of the learned and the apocryphal, whose discussions are both assured and sad” (Rose, 1989. p. 3).

It is clear that Ted was very literate in several forms of literacy, but maybe was not getting the type of schooling that he needed in order to let his thoughts and ideas flow freely. Eventually, Rose caught a bit of luck, which the majority of America does not get. After a teacher of his realized that there was a mistake on his placement tests he was placed into a college prep” (Rose, 1989, p. 4) program. It was there that Rose met a teacher named Jack MacFarland (Rose, 1989, p. 5) that changed his entire life. Jack showed an interest in his students that Rose had never seen before.

Rose became immersed in knowledge, he couldn’t get enough. Macfarland even would meet with this students outside of class at his apartment or coffee shops (Rose, 1989, p. 6). This goes to show that America’s educational system for those at the bottom of the economic spectrum need more teachers that actually love doing what they do and having a care for their students. The kids that Rose describes in the vocational program obviously aren’t getting the proper schooling that they need in order to be truly successful, but that doesn’t mean “sponsors of literacy” (Brandt, 1999) aren’t available to them.

These sponsors (Brandt, 1999) are everywhere, they could be available at the library in books, magazines, and even movies. The most important sponsors (Brandt, 1999) though are the teachers because they are the ones that get these students to think rhetorically and in turn take in the knowledge that they need. The students aren’t the only one’s that stand to gain something rom a good education either. A good teacher sees their hard work first hand when their students end up accomplishing their goals.

The reward for these teachers shouldn’t be anything of financial gain, but of a mental reward which is the “reciprocal relationship” between a student and a teacher(Brandt, 1999). In today’s social climate there are so many issues that face America and the rest of the world today, but one could argue that the biggest issue that faces us today is America’s public education system. It can’t be ignored any longer, America has deep problems within the lower class and the inability for these ids to get the proper teaching. For a change to happen it needs to happen from the top.

Americans need politicians and those who hold the most literacy and power to make their agenda about helping those at the bottom. It is also required for much of America to become “critically literate” (Knoblauch, 1990, p. 6) which means the citizens have to oppose the fundamental workings of America as a society, but those who have all the power don’t want that. The change has got to happen so these youth can have a chance. These young people are going to be running the country someday and it’s time to start acting like it.

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