Summary and Synthesis of Mike Rose's "Lives on the Boundary"

Carl Woodward's article in the Battalion relating to the idea that undergraduates do not care about
important issues is on average totally inaccurate. "Lives on the Boundary", an excellent, informative essay
by Mike Rose is a great example of how and why education should be equal for everyone. My fellow
classmates and I mostly agree with Mike Rose's essay and disagree with Carl Woodward's opinion. We
care about important issues and think that education should be equal for all.
When Mike Rose was growing up he had only a few books available to him so he began to buy
comic books because he "loved the heroes' virtuous omnipotence." And after comic books he moved to
other items such as the instructions to his chemistry set and science fiction novels. He wrote very little in
his schooling until his last year of high school where a teacher helped him find an interest in doing so.
Although he was a good reader he did inefficiently on literacy tests. It can be said that he only thought
about the concrete reality. Basically he was only educated by what entertained him, like Elizabeth Ewen's
quote says (Rose 98-99).
Rose further goes on in his essay to explain the circumstances of immigrants in our country and
their struggle of learning the english language in order to improve their life style. He says "a failed
education is social more then intellectual in origin." For example he explains the essence of a boy from
Guatemala who saw his brother hacked apart, and how the boy has trouble learning the canonical education
due to the trauma that he has experienced (Rose 99,101). Rose further goes on to argue that the great books
are necessary and should be thought but the students must learn the material not just memorize it for
regeration on exams. It would even be a good idea "to revise these messages and redress past wrongs
would involve more than adding some new books to the existing cannon." (Rose 107) Basically Rose says
that the cannon should be adjusted so that education will be more available for all.
I feel that education should be equal for all and support most of Mike Rose's thoughts and ideas.
It no difference what country or ethnic background people are from they should all have the same chances
to succeed in America. However I feel that Rose favors the canonical or education by way of great books
approach to education and I am more inclined to the revisionist's approach to education. I agree that the
great books should still be read and taught but not necessarily in the numbers that they are now. Or maybe
the teaching of the literature could change to a more student/learner friendly manner. Suppose that the
students are allowed to pick from a list of the great books, which one would they want to read. If so then
the student might actually get something out of the reading process, and the education system will have
When I discussed Mike Rose's essay with my fellow classmates I found that their thoughts and
ideas regarding the article were very similar to my own. Drew suggested that "Students should read the
great books that they are interested in because if they are not interested they won't get anything out of
them." In addition David added "That students need to find the love of reading by books they are
introduced and then they can love the great books, everyone needs to be introduced." Basically my peers
believe in Rose's ideas except that they like me a favor a slightly more revisionist approach to education.
We still support education by way of the great books we just believe it is time to modernize the learning
In Conclusion, the way that english is taught in our classrooms needs to be changed so that people
of all backgrounds have a better chance of learning and becoming productive citizens. It is obvious that
students care about important issues and are working to change them. I am not saying that the great book
or canonical approach to education should be abolished. However I believe that it should be adjusted and
modernized to enable to fit in better with today's diverse society.