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Summary and Response I Just Wanna Be Average

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Professor Hickman, My letter is in response to the writing assignment on the core reading. I chose Mike Rose’s “I Just Wanna be Average”. I am hopeful my writing will provide you with a summary and response as directed in writing project 1. My peer review by one classmate was quite helpful. In her review she stated which sentences, and where to find them, that needed the most help. She commented on the fact they were hard to follow and confusing. She also pointed out that I needed to elaborate more on the summary. I only mentioned Ken, a classmate from the excerpt, once in my paper. I need to introduce him in my summary to understand my reference in the conclusion. I should also explain more of Mike and Jack MacFarland’s relationship and why that reference is so important to this story. She mentioned, I should use more quotes and details in my response to back up my opinion. My second review was not very helpful. That peer review was vague. It echoed the first review without a lot of details that will help better my paper. I made an effort to revise my paper. I incorporated my peers review into it. I gave more details about the relationship between MacFarland and Mike. I also included Ken into my summary to help with the confusion of who he is. I also reworded sentences that were confusing. I’m hoping my revised final draft will give insight into this excerpt by Mike Rose.

Ashley Reuzenaar
Professor Hickman
English 111 05D
2 September 2015
Summary and Response Educational scholar Mike Rose authored I Just Wanna be Average excerpt from Lives on the Boundary, a semi biography of his high school experience in vocational education at Our Lady of Mercy. Our Lady of Mercy administers an assortment of tests for placement. The author’s assessment was switched with another student putting the author into vocational courses. Vocational courses being a fancy phrase for the lowest level of classes. Within these courses, he has had an assortment of classmates and teachers. A few of his classmates befriended him, Dave Snyder, Ted Richard, and Ken Harvey. A few teachers taught him well. A few others like Brother Dill and a physical education teacher would resort to corporal punishment for the students.
Ken Harvey, a fellow classmate, said the most memorable statement of Mike’s high school career. In class one day, talking about achievements and doing the best you can. The teacher called on Ken. Ken’s response after a moment of thought, “I just wanna be average.” Mike thought Ken was stupid at the time but that statement stayed with Mike.
Vocational education courses were for students that did not place well in the assessment tests. Essentially, general classes to place students to monetarily benefit the school. The school succeed in obtaining monetary funds for these classes even when the students didn’t succeed in the course. These courses were often led by teachers unqualified or untrained. Also resorting to physical discipline but there were some exceptional teachers at the high school. Like all students at the high school, the author had to take biology. The biology teacher, Brother Clint, noticed his almost perfect scores. This teacher took time to look into this vocational student records. The teacher was then able to get him switched to college prep courses. With switching courses, he was behind in some classes. Luckily a priest, who was also the athletic director, was able to give him passing grades in a couple of classes since Mike had joined the track team.
Throughout high school, Mike’s father had declining health. Eventually, even a cut on his leg wouldn’t heal. This led to an amputation on his father’s leg. Over a year had past while his father was in a rehabilitation center learning to walk on his prostatic leg. During the time at the center, his father fell and broke his hip. Leaving his father in a wheelchair that was draining his body and spirit. In Mike’s junior year his father had a stroke leaving him in a coma. His father then passed away.
Mike met English teacher Jack MacFarland after his father died. MacFarland was giving his students three or four essay to write a month and also making them read a new book every two weeks. Teaching a variety of writings and books, MacFarland was building up there knowledge. The teacher started a reading club inviting Mike. Mike loved getting good grades for this teacher. MacFarland took an interest in Mike. This teacher convinced Mike to go to college. Being rejected from UCLA, Jack was able to get Mike in the same college that he attended, Loyola University. MacFarland was also able to get Mike a loan. Jack MacFarland changed Mike’s life for the better. Now Mike has a career teaching English at a university because a teacher didn’t let him fall between the cracks. “Students flow to the mark you set” (Rose 3). This phrase caught my attention. I believe this statement means “marking” the students will set the scale for them. If you mark them high, they will flow to that mark. If they are “marked” at the bottom, there is nowhere to aim. Mike Rose dealt with this for two years in vocational education classes. These classes are a way for the school to get money. I also believe that these classes mark, or label the students. Making these students targets for bullying. Mike’s situation is close to my son’s situation.
My son was placed in a course similar to vocational courses. His courses are call cluster class. His mark was set quite shallow. His IQ is 120 and his classes only occupy him. “You’re defined by your school as “slow”; you’re placed in a curriculum that isn’t designed to liberate you but to occupy you” (Rose 5). Other children in his grade bully him because of this cluster class. “Other students are picking up the cues from your school and your curriculum and interacting with you in particular ways” (Rose 5).
“Vocational education has aimed at increasing the economic opportunities of students who do not do well in our schools” (Rose 3). My son receives monetary compensation for having disabilities. The money is to help with resources for him to learn and flourish in school. “Some serious programs succeed in doing that, and through exceptional teachers…students learn to develop hypotheses and troubleshoot, reason through a problem, and communicate effectively - the true job skills” (Rose 3).
Vocational education normally stays with the student throughout the students schooling. “Kids at that level rarely cross tracks” (Rose 6). Thankfully Mike was freed from those classes. “I begin my junior year in the College Prep” (Rose 6). Being defined as slow or labeled could hinder the flow of the students. “Students will flow to the mark you set” (Rose 3).
Work Cited
Rose, Mike. “I Just Wanna be Average.” Lives on the Boundary. 1986. Print.

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