Mike Rose’s Lives on the Boundary is an Educational Autobiography. The book begins at the beginning of his life and we follow him up into his adult years. The book focuses on the “struggles and achievements of America’s educationally underprepared” .
In order to understand Mike Rose, and his book Lives on the Boundary, you must first understand where Mike is coming from and examine his past. Mike was born to a first generation immigrant family, originally from Italy. He spent his early childhood in the mid-west and then in his latter childhood, parents not knowing any better, in East Los Angeles. Mike’s father suffered from arteriosclerosis. Neither Mike’s mother nor his father had completed high school and no one in his family had ever attended college. This is the setting, background, and characters of Mike’s tale of “struggles and achievements of America’s educationally underprepared” . Through this book Mike constantly is emphasizing three main themes. First, the importance of an educational mentor; later in this treatise we will examine several of Mike’s mentors. Second, social injustices in the American education system; specifically the lack of funding and bureaucracy’s affect on the public educational system. Third and lastly, specific teaching methods that Mike has used to reach out to kids on the boundary.
Throughout Mike’s life, he had the fortunate experience of having some inspirational mentors. I have identified four of his numerous mentors as the most critical to his development, both educationally and personally.
The first of Mike’s mentors I would like to discuss came into his life just after his father passed away, beginning of his senior year. His name was Jack MacFarland. Jack, as described by Mike Rose is,
…a beatnik who was born too late. His teeth were stained, he tucked his sorry tie between the third and forth buttons of his shirt, and his pants were chronically wrinkled.
With a cultural background like Mike’s, survival in the American educational system is a difficult struggle at best. However, Jack helped fill in some of the critical cultural blanks. “He slowly and carefully built up our knowledge of Western intellectual history – with facts, with connections, with speculations” . And Jack served as more than simply a source of numb...
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...t seems that every-other president and every-other governor refers to himself or herself as the education president or education governor, yet they fail to deliver the necessary funding to maintain a high level of education for all of his or her constituents’ children. Why is it that class and culture is the determining factor for who receives a quality education, this social injustice must be remedied.
Much like Mike, I have had some amazing academic mentors that were not afraid to get down in the trenches with me and ask what I was trying to say. I had Ms. Lewis my freshmen year of high school, she would sit down with me and rip apart my paper and rework it as necessary. During my senior year of high school, I had the privilege of taking a U.W. English class that was a seminar format where the instructor would frequently conference with us, and he gave me the tools to continue my education. However, something we all need to remember, especially at PLU, is to not be afraid to be a mentor to someone else. In life, we are all teachers. We tell one another our stories, and by doing that we are teaching them what it is like to look at the world through our lens.
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