Lives on the Boundary by Mike Rose
The book Lives on the Boundary, written by Mike Rose, provides great insight to what the new teaching professional may anticipate in the classroom. This book may be used to inform a teacher’s philosophy and may render the teacher more effective. Lives on the Boundary is a first person account composed of eight chapters each of which treat a different obstacle faced by Mike Rose in his years as a student and as an educator. More specifically in chapters one through five Mike Rose focuses on his own personal struggles and achievements as a student. Ultimately the aim is to highlight the underpreparedness of some of today’s learners.
First and most importantly Mike Rose writes the book in the first person. This provides an invaluable view to the actual thoughts and perceptions of a student who considered himself to be underprepared. Mike Rose begins his accounts in grammar school when he felt lost in the material. The teacher did not hold his attention and therefore he began to “daydream to avoid inadequacy” (Rose 19).
Mike Rose does not describe himself as a nuisance, but as a student who was overlooked. This treatment was very a detriment to his education. “I would hide by slumping down in my seat and page through my reader, carried along by the flow of sentences in a story.” (Rose 19) He discusses the teachers’ inability to “engage the imaginations of us kids who were scuttling along at the bottom of the pond.” (Rose 26) This strategy combined poorly with the attitudes of other students who did not want to work hard, who just wanted to be average. (Rose 28) Mike Rose describes that mix of students and how it affected his own perception of education:
“School can be a tremendously disorienting place… You’ll also be thrown in with all kind of kids from all kind of backgrounds, and that can be unsettling… You’ll see a handful of students far excel you in courses that sound exotic and that are only in the curriculum of the elite: French, physics, trigonometry. And all this is happening while you’re trying to shape an identity; your body is changing, and your emotions are running wild.” (Rose 28)
Without reading Mike Rose’s detailed descriptions of his experiences as a learner a perspective teacher may never suspect that the quiet student in the class is daydreaming to avoid the material that he/she does not understand. By reading Lives on the Boundary a new teacher may be able to recognize the struggles that a student is facing due to physical and psychosocial changes.
Mr. Rose presents many descriptive vignettes of teaching professionals in his life who have influenced him both positively and negatively and whom he has retained for emulation or distinction. These characters in his life include teachers from grammar school throughout his college experience. All have in one way or another left a considerable imprint on his recollection of school and learning.
Mike Rose experienced a few...