Mike Rose (educator)

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Mike Rose
Mike Rose lecturing at AERA
  • David H. Russell Award
  • AERA Distinguished Lectureship
  • UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award
  • Guggenheim Fellowship
  • University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education
  • Commonwealth Club of California Award
Academic background
Alma materLoyola University (B.A.)
University of Southern California (M.S.)
University of California, Los Angeles (M.A. and Ph.D.)
Academic work
Main interestsEducation
Notable worksLives on the Boundary

Mike Rose (born 1944) is an American education scholar. He has studied literacy and the struggles of working-class America. Rose is currently a Research Professor of Social Research Methodology in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University (B.A.), the University of Southern California (M.S.), and the University of California, Los Angeles (M.A. and Ph.D.).[1]

Early life[edit]

Mike Rose was born in 1944 in Altoona, Pennsylvania to Italian immigrants Tommy Rose and Rose Meraglio. At the age of seven, Rose with his family relocated to a working-class neighborhood in South Los Angeles. Rose drifted uneventfully through most of his early education. Through a mix up in test scores with another student with the same surname, Rose was placed in a vocational education track upon entering high school at Our Lady of Mercy. After several years, a teacher looked at Rose's records and discovered that Rose had been misplaced in the vocational track.[2] Rose was moved out of the vocational education track and began the following school year in the college prep track. Once in the college prep track, a dedicated English teacher his senior year, Jack McFarland, soon pushed Rose to reevaluate himself and helped him get admitted as a probationary student to Loyola University. This change in perspective proved to be a turning point for Rose who would then go on to earn a bachelor's degree from Loyola University of Los Angeles and win a graduate fellowship in English at the University of California, Los Angeles. Rose wrote a memoir essay about his awakening as a reader and writer entitled "I Just Wanna Be Average."

Teaching career[edit]

In time Rose became disaffected with academia and left graduate study to embark on a series of jobs teaching writing to underprivileged and underprepared students in inner-city Los Angeles. Over the next several years Rose would teach everything from elementary writing to basic adult literacy. In time, Rose accepted a position as a director at UCLA’s tutoring center where he was instrumental in shaping tutor training and policy. In 1981 Rose received his PhD in education from UCLA and in 1994 was hired as a faculty member in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Mike Rose has been teaching for nearly forty years.

Contributions to the Field of Education[edit]

One of Rose’s most significant contributions is his reevaluation of remedial writers. In his bestselling book, Lives on the Boundary, Rose argues that remedial students lack literacy skills not through a shortage of intelligence but because of a history of poor education and a lack of supportive social and economic conditions. Rose challenges educators to have increased confidence in such students and calls for greater equality in educational opportunities.

In addition, Rose’s work has questioned prevailing methods of teaching literacy to underprepared students. Rose questions the effectiveness of skill and drill curricula that are primarily focused on grammar and usage. Instead, Rose argues that basic writers should be pushed to engage in meaningful composition that draws on critical thinking.

During the last decade Rose has also written widely on the importance of public education in a democracy and on the need for a more humane philosophy of education that goes beyond economic benefit and learning as measured by standardized test scores.

Most recently he has been writing about the intelligence involved in doing blue-collar work, like waitressing, plumbing, welding, and calls into question our standard definitions of intelligence, the way we define "skilled" work, and the separation of the school curriculum into the "vocational" and the "academic."


Rose’s research has been widely recognized, and he is the recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English, the American Educational Research Association's Distinguished Lectureship, UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education,[3] and the Commonwealth Club of California Award for Literary Excellence in Nonfiction.


  • Writer’s Block: The Cognitive Dimension (1984)—study exploring thought patterns that hinder composition
  • When a Writer Can’t Write: Studies in Writer’s Block and Other Composing Problems (1985)—an examination of the social and cognitive barriers that impede writing
  • Perspectives on Literacy, editor, with Eugene R. Kintgen and Barry M. Kroll (1988)—a collection of essays focused on writing and its larger dimensions
  • Lives on the Boundary (1989)—a semi-autobiographical account detailing the struggles and challenges of educationally underprepared students
  • Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America (1995)—an exploration into the problems and potential of education in America
  • Critical Strategies for Academic Thinking and Writing, with Malcolm Kiniry (Third Edition, 1997)—a college textbook that outlines six effective strategies for thinking and writing
  • Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook, with Ellen Cushman, Barry Kroll, and Eugene R. Kintgen (2001)—a collection of essays exploring the use and acquisition of reading and writing
  • The Mind At Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker (2004)—a study exploring the complex thinking involved in common labor
  • Lives on the Boundary. New York: Penguin Books, 2005
  • An Open Language: Selected Writing on Literacy, Learning, and Opportunity (2006)—a collection of essays exploring various subjects on education
  • Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us (2009)—a collection of essays on the purpose of education
  • Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education (2012) 09876


  1. ^ Cf. biography on Rose's website
  2. ^ "Mike Rose - The Intelligence in All Kinds of Work, and the Human Core of All Education That Matters". On Being with Krista Tippett. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  3. ^ "1997- Mike Rose". Archived from the original on 2015-02-09.

External links[edit]