Mike Rose: Reimagining The Education System

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1596 |

Pages: 4|

8 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 1596|Pages: 4|8 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Mike Rose and His View on Education's Impact
  3. The Need for Individualized Placement
  4. Rose's Stance on the Role of Positive Mentors
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works Cited


In the eyes of the education system, students are no more than the test score they receive. The narrative “I Just Wanna Be Average,” follows young Mike Rose as he recounts his high school career and how he developed as a student under different educational circumstances. It was written by Mike Rose, a research professor at UCLA, and published in Lives on the Boundary in 1989. Rose wrote this narrative with the purpose of informing his specific audience of his overall argument, which he develops through his own personal experiences. These individual experiences that Rose endures work in portraying the effects that different forms of education have on individuals. The audience that Rose is directing his argument towards can be defined as educators and students associated most specifically with the high school education system. He argues that the majority of students have unrealized potential and the education system neglects this potential through the generalization of these students. Mike Rose effectively convinces his audience of his argument by strategizing with juxtaposition through the difference shown between two different educational tracks, using rhetorical questions to effectively prove his helplessness in an educational decision, and utilizing anachronism to prove that academic rediscovery is possible with a positive mentor. His narrative works in portraying that when individuals feel inspiration and individualization in their own education, they are more prone to succeed and reach their full potential.

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Mike Rose and His View on Education's Impact

The educational system should give students more freedom in their education to control their futures. Rose argues that the educational system focuses on labeling students, rather than helping them realize their individual potential. Through the use of juxtaposition, he emphasizes the major differences between vocational education and the college preparation tracks present in his high school. This appeals to ethos, because Rose proves his trustworthiness to the audience having experienced both educational systems himself. “I lived in one world spring semester, and when I came back in the Fall, I was living in another” (Rose pg 4.) Having been helpless in the decision of his categorization, Rose had zero control over his own education and limited access to the resources that could allow him to reach his full potential. His use of juxtaposition effectively proves to the audience how big of a difference one minor educational placement can have on a student. The significance of him being forced into the vocational education track was him feeling the need to assimilate among his peers, preventing him from searching for educational growth as an individual and falling in line with the system He effectively proves the failure of this system of categorization through the depiction of his first-hand experience with it. This effectively convinces his academic audience that even though the system allowed them to succeed, it doesn’t work for everyone. His use of juxtaposition effectively shows how big an educational difference am individual perceives can be made by one small placement change. He opens their eyes to another perspective of the educational system that they have not experienced.

The Need for Individualized Placement

The education system needs to develop a more beneficial and individualized process of student placement, so that students are able to reach their full educational potential without feeling subject to a certain educational track. Rose claims that students are placed into sectors through standardization methods that may inhibit their potential for learning. Using various rhetorical questions, he emphasizes the helplessness that he felt in his placement, due to his parent’s limited education and busy schedule. An appeal to pathos is justifiable, because Rose evokes emotion in his audience due to the relatability some may feel with a family life that may not be as helpful as others. Rose states “But how would someone like Tommy Rose, with his two years of Italian schooling, know what to ask? And what sort of pressure could an exhausted waitress apply? The error went undetected, and I remained in the vocational track for two years. What a place” (Rose pg 1.) Rose had taken a standardized placement test which had gotten mixed up with another one of his classmates that lacked the same academic proficiency as him. Before his correct placement, Rose’s time in the lower vocational track affected his whole education and dampened the potential of his individual capabilities. Most students are helpless when it comes to these placements into different educational sectors, because these placements are decided based on standardized tests, and once they receive their score they are forever subject to a certain track. These tests create an unfortunate generalization and may place students in a sector that will not let them excel to their full potential in certain subjects and suppress their capacity to learn. This lack of education individualization in educational systems leads to a loss of interest in many students and may cause rebellion and neglect of their education. With the use of effective rhetorical questions, he shows the audience first hand that he did not have outside help to allow him to be placed in the correct sector. Rose effectively convinced his audience of his argument, because students and educators have most likely had to participate in a standardized test and have experienced first hand the generalization of their capabilities, but have most likely had positive outcomes that come from it regardless, including entrance into certain tracks or college. This is why Rose portrays the negative effects of these tests, to provide insight on a less prevalent perspective on the topic. The variety of these placement tests are becoming a prodigious problem in this day in age. This generalization is leading to the extinguishment of individual student capabilities and causing the current generation to give up on their education as a whole. Education systems need to alter their ways of placement and focus more on specific student abilities, so they are able to correctly place students and allow them to reach their full potential in specific areas, as well as their education as a whole.

Rose's Stance on the Role of Positive Mentors

The strict and general agenda that educators have to follow due to the guidelines of common core causes them to have less interest in their class and generalize their students. Rose states that having the presence of a positive mentor will motivate a student to become more successful in their education. With the use of anachronism, Rose brings up a habit of his that had once been diminished by his educators and brought back in a time where it was no longer a commonality of his, or the majority of his peers. Rose appeals to pathos, because he evokes emotion and nostalgia in the academic audience, due to relating with students over a common academic occurrence. Many students would read when they were younger, because it was a hobby, but as reading became assigned, it was no longer viewed as enjoyable. Rose claims “There were some lives that were already beyond Jack MacFarland’s ministrations, but mine was not. I started reading as I hadn't since elementary school” (Rose pg 5.) It can be inferred from the quote that before Jack MacFarland came into his life, Rose was a troubled high schooler who did not find meaning in his education. He had gone through school with teachers were not enthusiastic, unqualified, and most definitely did not care about his individual education. With this lack of individualism, Rose began to lose the inspiration to learn and succeed, along with most of his peers subjected to the same teaching standards. Before hope was lost, MacFarland came into Rose’s life and proved to him that his education did matter and it was possible for him to succeed. The idea of at least one person believing in him was what allowed Rose to succeed, as well as find interest in things that he used to neglect due to negative associations with unqualified teachers. Anachronism is effective in persuading the audience of his argument that a positive mentor can have positive effects on an individual’s education, due to the fact that something most students associate as forced and unenjoyable was once again proved a hobby. These days, high school education is becoming more and more structured, due to the integration of common core, which is leading to teachers having to follow strict guidelines. With these guidelines in place, teachers do not get to teach with their own style, which leads to a lack of individualism found in each class. This leads to the generalization of the actual student’s education. Teachers need to have more freedom to structure their class, so they have a genuine interest in teaching and relaying information, which can than be reflected on the students they teach.

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Throughout his education, Rose was subjected to conditions that suppressed his individualization. Students need to be in an educational system that will allow them to reach their full educational potential and find inspiration in the information they learn and the work they complete. Along with high school, college is also becoming very general in terms of admission. All students are required to take standardized placement tests, like the SAT and ACT, which they must get a good score on to even be considered for entry. This process generalizes students and does not allow them to be seen for their individual capabilities. Students are more than a test score, and the education system needs to adjust their ways in order to align with that mindset. 

Works Cited

  1. Rose, Mike. 'I Just Wanna Be Average.' Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America's Educationally Underprepared, The Free Press, 1989.
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Cite this Essay

Mike Rose: Reimagining the Education System. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
“Mike Rose: Reimagining the Education System.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
Mike Rose: Reimagining the Education System. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 Dec. 2023].
Mike Rose: Reimagining the Education System [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 04 [cited 2023 Dec 11]. Available from:
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