Dialogue on Writing: Rethinking ESL, Basic Writing, and First-Year Composition

By Geraldine Deluca; Len Fox et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Reclaiming the Classroom
Mike Rose

Mike Rose is a professor at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and a nationally recognized expert on language and literacy. He is the author of Possible Lives: The Promise of Education in America and, with M. Kiniry, Critical Strategies for Academic Thinking and Writing. The son of immigrants, Rose was raised in South Central Los Angeles, attended both parochial and public schools and colleges, and has taught at all levels of the nation's public school system. The following selection is from Lives on the Boundary: The Struggles and Achievements of America's Underprepared, an award-winning investigation of remedial education (The Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster, 1989).

There was not much space in Room 316, the third-floor office of the Veteran's Program, but the staff managed to fit a desk and two chairs into a storeroom, just inside the door. That was where I tutored. There were stacks of mimeograph paper and old files and textbooks behind me. A portable blackboard rocked noisily on wobbly casters. The Veteran's Program had been fashioned by an educational psychologist named Chip Anderson and was, in effect, a masterful crash course in the three Rs of higher education. It was housed in the old UCLA Extension Building in downtown Los Angeles. Students were enrolled right out of the service— the Marine Corps particularly—or through veteran's centers in Southern California. Virtually all who signed up were men. They took classes in English, speech, and mathematics, and participated in workshops to improve their reading and study skills. They were also enrolled in The Psychology of Human Relations. This introduced them to the mysteries of the college lecture course and had the additional benefit of dealing with communication and social interaction for a group returning to a culture that must have seemed pretty strange. All students received tutoring and academic and personal counseling. The curriculum was comprehensive and sensible; it provided an opportunity to develop the speaking, reading, writing, and mathematical abilities needed for college. The men I worked with called it academic boot camp.

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