Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own Proves Students Need Schools of Their Own

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Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own Proves Students Need Schools of Their Own

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in 1989 an average of 1,375 children dropped out of school every day. As a future educator, my reaction to this figure is one of horror and disbelief. Once I get past the shock of such a figure and the obligatory rhetorical questions: How could we let this happen?, I become an investigator. I begin to look for patterns in the profiles of students who have failed. I consider the curriculum these students ingest and how it is fed to them. I try to understand what circumstances result in the forsaking of 1,375 students per day.

As a nation, we have established institutions of learning that cater to the needs of some. Our schools allow a select handful of students to succeed. Certain segments of our population appear to be at greater risk than others. The future does not bode well for young black and Latino men and women who do not make it through high school. According to Duane Campbell, author of Choosing Democracy, the unemployment rate for Latino men and women is substantially higher than the national average and an African American child is as likely to go to prison as to college (15). According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 1991 43% of African American children and 35% of Latino children were living in poverty. It is not surprising that a vast number of the 501,875 annual school drop-outs come from impoverished black and Latino families.

Of course it is not only blacks and Latinos who are lost in the educational shuffle. There are hordes of students who simply do not fit into the traditional public school paradigm. Whether this poor fit is the result of an unorthodox learning style, an emotional disability or a need for a higher level of teacher involvement, these students are often failed. Such students may stay in school, but they receive a sub-standard education.

Virginia Woolf, in her essay "A Room of One’s Own" makes a strong case for schools which cater to the needs of students who are failed by our existing system. I did not see the connection between "A Room of One’s Own" and education upon my first reading of the essay, as a matter of fact the idea came to me as I read Woolf’s essay "The Common Reader.

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