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POSSIBLE LIVES by Mike Rose

POSSIBLE LIVES

The Promise of Public Education in America

By Mike Rose

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1995
ISBN: 0-395-74546-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

 A spirited, optimistic showcase of the potential of our public schools, gleaned from a wide array of American classrooms. For four years Rose (Lives on the Boundary, 1989), director of the UCLA Writing Program, visited classrooms from rural Montana to New York City. At a time when faith in public education is at its nadir, Rose finds redeeming attributes in America's greatest democratic experiment. The book's findings are a testament to the resilience, boldness, and inventiveness of our nation's educators. Whether on Chicago's South Side or in Kentucky's coal country, those teachers who are in the forefront of meaningful eduction share a deep respect for their students (both as individuals and as members of distinct communities and cultures) and a determination not to be bound by the bureaucracy of traditional pedagogy, which departmentalizes knowledge and divides students by age rather than ability. Elena Castro, for example, a teacher in the southern border town of Calexico, integrates language arts with science, enabling students to study in more interesting contexts. In the course of a school day, her elementary school students shift from one work station to another: They might edit a story on the computer at the Publishing Station or work on mathematics with the assistance of audiotapes at the Listening Station. Students are free to follow their interests and assume responsibility for mastering their studies. Castro responds to a problem student by asking herself, ``What can I do that will work for this child?'' The featured educators integrate the distinct histories of their students along with day-to-day realities into a curriculum that respects all cultures. In the author's analysis, these teachers also tend to communicate more successfully with their colleagues and with the parents of their studentsinteraction deemed an integral part of the educational process. With these creative models, Rose skillfully restores hope to public education. (Author tour)