I Just Wanna Be Average

6008 Words25 Pages
“I Just Wanna Be Average"

Mike Rose is anything but average: he has published poetry, scholarly research, a textbook, and two widely praised books on education in Amer­ica. A professor in the School of Education at UCLA, Rose has won awards from the National Academy of Education, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Below you'll read the story of how this highly successful teacher and writer started high school in the "vocational education" track, learning dead-end skills from teachers who were often underprepared or incompetent. Rose shows that students whom the system has written off can have tremendous unreal­ized potential, and his critique of the school system
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"'Rose' ? What the hell kind of name is that?"
"Italian, sir," I squeaked.
"Italian! Ho. Rose, do you know the sound a bag of shit makes when it hits the wall?"
"No, sir."
Sophomore English was taught by Mr. Mitropetros. He was a large, be­jeweled man who managed the parking lot at the Shrine Auditorium. He would crow and preen and list for us the stars he'd brushed against. We'd ask questions and glance knowingly and snicker, and all that fueled the poor guy to brag some more. Parking cars was his night job. He had little training in English, so his lesson plan for his day work had us reading the district's required text, Julius Caesar, aloud for the semester. We'd finished the play way before the twenty weeks was up, so he'd have us switch parts again and again and start again: Dave Snyder, the fastest guy at Mercy, muscling through Caesar to the breathless squeals of Calpurnia, as interpreted by Steve Fusco, a surfer who owned the school's most envied paneled wagon. Week ten and Dave and Steve would take on new roles, as would we all, and render a water-logged Cassius and a Brutus that are beyond my powers of description.
Spanish I - taken in the second year - fell into the hands of a new re­cruit. Mr. Montez was a tiny man, slight, five foot six at the most, soft­-spoken and delicate. Spanish was a particularly rowdy class, and Mr. Mon­tez was as prepared for it as a doily maker at a hammer throw. He would
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