I find the autobiographical element in Rose’s work to be both inspiring and depressing. As students, we can all reflect on instructors who have played a crucial role in supporting our education. As instructors, we can lament the boundaries that time and opportunity place on our own involvement in the academic affairs of our students. It is increasingly frustrating to realize that our efforts as instructors often come at too late an hour to foster significant change or growth within our students.
The success that Rose suggests in his own college experience he grounds in the continuing support of Jack MacFarland?. Without this influence, Rose readily admits that he found himself slipping into his old world of half-hearted scholarship, where daydreams existed as outlets to frustrations and fears, and the art of “being average” was in vogue.
Is this expectation a realistic one? Though we all remember our favorite professors fondly, did we actually experience the level of support that Rose received? Can we expect, as instructors, to dole out the same level of additional support that was provided to him? It seems unfair to hold this example to light, as an example of “how it could be,” when reality has already proven Rose’s experience is the exception not the rule. This reality, compounded with the reality of higher education devolving into mass production, renders impotent Rose’s personal experiences. Rosalie Naumann’s admission that “…the schools try things that don’t seem to work, and she might speak too much with the voice of the schools,” is on that needs to be acknowledge. Teachers no longer speaking with their own voice, but instead, with the voice of the school.
One of the most glaring problems with the concept of Basic Writing is the placement of students within the category of basic. Rose’s own experience proves the flaws inherent in the system, not only of testing, but also of teacher’s ability to recognize a basic writer without the use of a test. In his work with Harold, Rose focuses on the file that teachers have compiled that list a myriad of issues ranging from personal to a “diagnosis” of dysphasia. What is even more troubling, despite the concern that Harold’s teachers have expressed, Rose is the first that has ever made contact with Harold’s mother. He suggests that the teachers are looking for a way to simplify Harold’s problems, so that it is no longer their responsibility to remedy them. This seems to fall into Rosalie’s fear of speaking with the voice of the school. Individual teachers are now replicating the clinical evaluation of students that has its roots in testing.
-One thing I noticed is that Rose repeatedly points to fear as being a primary motive for behavior within the classroom. Fear sparks violence or apathy. His own personal fear of being found wrong, or being judged as stupid, allowed him to daydream as a form of defense mechanism. This is a defense he falls back upon in college, when he is unable to face the demands of a classroom mentality that he has not been prepared for.
Terry is a different example. Based more on the bad boy that Rose avoided becoming, Terry has allowed his fear to push him towards violence, and that is the face that he turns to the world. Despite his inherent kindness to those weaker than himself, he responds to fear, not with apathy but anger.
Jerry’s anger, thought more intense both because of and in spite of the drugs, proves that even grown men are not immune from the fear of failure. The presence of this fear also illustrates a desire to attain literacy, and a total lack of faith in his ability to succeed.
-Another thing I found interesting was Rose’s careful description of body language throughout the piece. Whether he is issuing a general description of someone’s physical features, or discussing the position their hands were in at the time of the conversation, Rose pays specific mind to his students and his various mentors.
-The bottom paragraph of pg 110 is suggesting exactly what Murray writes about in his article “All Writing is Autobiography.”
-Willie, from the section Reclaiming the Classroom, reminds me of Malcolm X’s “Learning to Read.”
-In his description of dealing with both Olga and David, Rose is mimicking the intense one-on-one style that he experienced with his own writing instructor. No focus on grammar or traditional writing technique, but specific questions and literature designed for the individual student.