« Educational Testing: A Brief Glossary | Main | Happy Independence Day! »

Cool People You Should Know: Mike Rose


We’ve spent a lot of time here lately talking about tests and test scores. You can’t ignore ‘em – they’re a ubiquitous part of the educational landscape in the U.S., and their salience has only increased in the NCLB era. To the extent that they are able to tell us about students’ mastery of core academic skills, they can be a useful tool to guide education policy and practice.
But some of the importance of testing comes from the way we use tests for sorting, selecting and certifying individuals, and not from the intrinsic qualities that the tests are seeking to measure. I would never say that literacy and numeracy skills are unimportant; but there’s a lot more to being a competent adult and citizen than high test scores.

This point is driven home by a cool person you should know: Mike Rose, Professor of Social Research Methodology at UCLA. The son of working-class Italian immigrants, Mike was classified as a remedial student, until some perceptive high school teachers figured out he had the potential to go to college. He spent much of his early career teaching literacy skills to students at various levels of schooling who had not been well-prepared. His autobiographical book Lives on the Boundary is an inspiring account of the power of good teaching to engage struggling students in the study of written English.

In an article entitled “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower” published in the June, 2008 issue of Atlantic Monthly, “Professor X,” an adjunct English teacher at a private college and a community college, turned a lot of heads with his palpable resignation at teaching students who he believes don’t belong in college and are destined to fail. Rose, in his recent foray into blogging, considers how he might teach James Joyce’s short story “Araby,” which “Professor X” views as outside the ken of his students, to a group of underprepared students. I’ve never taught English, but it’s a tour de force.

Rose’s most recent monograph is entitled The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker. Through portraits of blue-collar workers such as carpenters, waitresses and hair stylists, he persuades us that there is a tremendous amount of mental work involved in manual labor. People don’t live their lives taking tests; they live them engaging with tools, symbols, and, most importantly, with other people. Mike Rose calls for a conception of intelligence that acknowledges school, to be sure, but also the workplace and the public sphere of our democracy.

On his blog, Rose writes, “If I had to sum up the philosophical thread that runs through my work, it would be this: A deep belief in the ability of the common person, a commitment to educational, occupational, and cultural opportunity to develop that ability, and an affirmation of public institutions and the public sphere as vehicles for nurturing and expressing that ability.” As we approach the 4th of July holiday, it’s hard to imagine a philosophy more consistent with the founding ideals of this country.


Cheers to Mike Rose (and to you for featuring him!) I too believe in the public system and in all my students. While testing does serve it's purpose and can inform instruction, it is only one dimension of a child. I work with small children, not adults, but I still can't imagine looking into the eyes of someone who is in your class ready to learn, and telling them that they don't get to belong. I find it shocking that Professor X felt that he was qualified to make such a determination.

Very impressive profile and someone that I want to know more about. I think the important thing to remember is that we do not choose for students what we think they will be (that happens all to often) and help students find that gift and calling which they feel born to do. I love the old adage to find work you love and you'll never work a day in your life.

I read Lives on the Boundary in 11th grade and that book directly influenced my decision to become a teacher. I owe Mike Rose a lot! I'm very excited about his blog.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Nancy: I read Lives on the Boundary in 11th grade and read more
  • Vicki Davis: Very impressive profile and someone that I want to know read more
  • Mimi: Cheers to Mike Rose (and to you for featuring him!) read more




Technorati search

» Blogs that link here


8th grade retention
Fordham Foundation
The New Teacher Project
Tim Daly
absent teacher reserve
absent teacher reserve

accountability in Texas
accountability systems in education
achievement gap
achievement gap in New York City
acting white
AERA annual meetings
AERA conference
Alexander Russo
Algebra II
American Association of University Women
American Education Research Associatio
American Education Research Association
American Educational Research Journal
American Federation of Teachers
Andrew Ho
Art Siebens
Baltimore City Public Schools
Barack Obama
Bill Ayers
black-white achievement gap
books on educational research
boy crisis
brain-based education
Brian Jacob
bubble kids
Building on the Basics
Cambridge Education
carnival of education
Caroline Hoxby
Caroline Hoxby charter schools
cell phone plan
charter schools
Checker Finn
Chicago shooting
Chicago violence
Chris Cerf
class size
Coby Loup
college access
cool people you should know
credit recovery
curriculum narrowing
Dan Willingham
data driven
data-driven decision making
data-driven decision-making
David Cantor
Dean Millot
demographics of schoolchildren
Department of Assessment and Accountability
Department of Education budget
Diplomas Count
disadvantages of elite education
do schools matter
Doug Ready
Doug Staiger
dropout factories
dropout rate
education books
education policy
education policy thinktanks
educational equity
educational research
educational triage
effects of neighborhoods on education
effects of No Child Left Behind
effects of schools
effects of Teach for America
elite education
Everyday Antiracism
excessed teachers
exit exams
experienced teachers
Fordham and Ogbu
Fordham Foundation
Frederick Douglass High School
Gates Foundation
gender and education
gender and math
gender and science and mathematics
gifted and talented
gifted and talented admissions
gifted and talented program
gifted and talented programs in New York City
girls and math
good schools
graduate student union
graduation rate
graduation rates
guns in Chicago
health benefits for teachers
High Achievers
high school
high school dropouts
high school exit exams
high school graduates
high school graduation rate
high-stakes testing
high-stakes tests and science
higher ed
higher education
highly effective teachers
Houston Independent School District
how to choose a school
incentives in education
Institute for Education Sciences
is teaching a profession?
is the No Child Left Behind Act working
Jay Greene
Jim Liebman
Joel Klein
John Merrow
Jonah Rockoff
Kevin Carey
KIPP and boys
KIPP and gender
Lake Woebegon
Lars Lefgren
leaving teaching
Leonard Sax
Liam Julian

Marcus Winters
math achievement for girls
meaning of high school diploma
Mica Pollock
Michael Bloomberg
Michelle Rhee
Michelle Rhee teacher contract
Mike Bloomberg
Mike Klonsky
Mike Petrilli
narrowing the curriculum
National Center for Education Statistics Condition of Education
new teachers
New York City
New York City bonuses for principals
New York City budget
New York City budget cuts
New York City Budget cuts
New York City Department of Education
New York City Department of Education Truth Squad
New York City ELA and Math Results 2008
New York City gifted and talented
New York City Progress Report
New York City Quality Review
New York City school budget cuts
New York City school closing
New York City schools
New York City small schools
New York City social promotion
New York City teacher experiment
New York City teacher salaries
New York City teacher tenure
New York City Test scores 2008
New York City value-added
New York State ELA and Math 2008
New York State ELA and Math Results 2008
New York State ELA and Math Scores 2008
New York State ELA Exam
New York state ELA test
New York State Test scores
No Child Left Behind
No Child Left Behind Act
passing rates
picking a school
press office
principal bonuses
proficiency scores
push outs
qualitative educational research
qualitative research in education
quitting teaching
race and education
racial segregation in schools
Randall Reback
Randi Weingarten
Randy Reback
recovering credits in high school
Rick Hess
Robert Balfanz
Robert Pondiscio
Roland Fryer
Russ Whitehurst
Sarah Reckhow
school budget cuts in New York City
school choice
school effects
school integration
single sex education
small schools
small schools in New York City
social justice teaching
Sol Stern
Stefanie DeLuca
stereotype threat
talented and gifted
talking about race
talking about race in schools
Teach for America
teacher effectiveness
teacher effects
teacher quailty
teacher quality
teacher tenure
teachers and obesity
Teachers College
teachers versus doctors
teaching as career
teaching for social justice
teaching profession
test score inflation
test scores
test scores in New York City
testing and accountability
Texas accountability
The No Child Left Behind Act
The Persistence of Teacher-Induced Learning Gains
thinktanks in educational research
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Tom Kane
University of Iowa
Urban Institute study of Teach for America
Urban Institute Teach for America
value-added assessment
Wendy Kopp
women and graduate school science and engineering
women and science
women in math and science
Woodrow Wilson High School