In “I Just Wanna Be Average”, Mike Rose describes his experience in a vocational training class where he had been mistakenly placed (Rose 12). He talks about his classmates and the teachers he interacted with in great detail. By doing so, he is able to paint a picture of the kind of experience that he had in the class. The main purpose of the essay is to help students who are frustrated by the educational system know that they were not alone. By learning from the experience and the difficulties that Mike Rose had to go through while seeking education, those who are negatively affected by the education system can find the comfort and believe that they can also overcome the challenges. When a personal experience is added to a text, it always brings about some elements of individuality. Rose has effectively used it to be able to pass his message across. The text also reveals that simple mistakes like wrong placement can greatly affect the esteem of the students. Moreover, the kind of experience that students have with the teachers may positively or negatively affect their performance.
To support his theme about the challenges faced in the vocational education classes, Rose goes ahead to describe his fellow students as well as the teachers. He remarks that the teachers acted as if they did not care about their students. The physical violence to control the students in the vocational classes. When describing one of the teachers, Rose states that “He routinely had us grabbing our ankles to receive his stinging paddle across our butts” (13). This goes ahead to show how the teachers relied on violence in the classes rather than finding other means through which they could help the students. Rose notes various personalities in those who were with him in the same class. By doing this, he was able to clearly demonstrate the kind of experience that students go through in the vocational classes and how it affects their performance. Most of the students seemed to have given up on performing well. It is for this reason that one of his classmates, Ken Harvey, responds that “he just wanted to be average” when asked about working hard (15).
In the essay, Rose comes out as a very ambitious and motivated person. He was able to overcome challenges that he faced in the course of his education and later on succeeded in life. In his class, the common practice was to “reject the confusion by openly defining yourself as the common Joe” (18). This is a concept that he questioned because he was ambitious and wanted to succeed despite the challenges facing him. In the end, this kind of persona supports his primary purpose in the essay. The choices which are made in the text are effective as they go along way in helping explore the challenges in the educational system and how some students are able to deal with them while the majority cannot.
Rose, Mike. Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America Educationally Underprepared. London: Penguin Books, 2005. Print.