Mike Rose In Faulkner's Possible Lives

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Mike Rose, in Possible Lives, came to see the places where we live. He came to Tucson, drove through the streets we drive, parked in the structure we park in at the University we teach in. He walked through the desert landscape between the ocotillos and jojobas, under the palo verdes, and around the brittle bushes bright with yellow flowers, skirting the long slivery lagoon that formed during the heavy chabusco downpour the July evening before, and then entered the Modern Language Building that we see from our education building office windows. Then he became a participant-observer in a summer program for Hopi and Navajo youth from Tuba City and entered another world we live in-the world of America's classrooms. Reading Possible Lives, we found…show more content…
Diego Rivera caught just such a scene in his magnificent murals in the central court of the Detroit Institute of Arts. If you look carefully, you can see a bespectacled Rivera in the group seeing what he will later portray in the mural. Possible Lives is Mike Rose's mural. This is the book of a remarkable voyager, who searched America's schools seeking what is possible-not hypothetically possible, but really possible. He found truly professional teachers, sometimes under seemingly impossible conditions, demonstrating what is possible for all of America's young people. Rose is a tourist, artist like Rivera, and like Rivera his mural is not a romantic notion of the workers he observes. Rose is Rivera painting the workers and their workings in the context of their work. He provides a rich landscape so that his readers see and understand what happens in classrooms in the context of their communities and the hardships that involve the political realities of schooling in…show more content…
In every case the . . . classrooms were exciting places ... of reflection and challenge, of deliberation and expression, of quiet work and public presentation. People were encouraged to be smart.... These young people were acting as agents in their own development. (416) Mike Rose's Possible Lives has provided us with support for continuations of the arguments we have had and the battles we have waged over the thirty or more years of our professional lives. We have new and powerfully written evidence about the importance of the teacher in the educational enterprise. Although our work has been validated by a research scholar and eminent writer such as Rose, what is most important is how this book is put to use. Readers of this book will come away with a renewed faith in the possibilities of public education. But they must not stop there. There are those in our society who would prefer not to have to pay for the education of the poor, the disenfranchised, the nonconformists. There are those who wish to portray public education as a failed experiment. To do this they attack teachers and learners, blaming the best for the failures of the system. All of us need to actively respond to such attacks, telling and retelling the stories of the lives that heroic teachers make possible in our schools. Mike Rose awakens us to the promise of American education that is still a possibility. Free public

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