The Value of Education Essay Example. The Analysis of I Just Wanna Be Average and Discovering the Power of Language
In “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose, the writer describes a time in his life that forever changed all because his school, Our Lady of Mercy, made a mistake. His life also changed drastically when he met his teacher, Mr. MacFarland, after his father died. Mr. MacFarland opened so many doors for that it’s unbelievable and unfathomable. Meanwhile, in “Discovering the Power of Language” by Malcolm X, the writer informs the audience of his experience of teaching himself how to read and write while in prison. He also describes the process and the journey of how he taught himself how to read and write without knowing how to read and write before. In “Discovering the Power of Language” by Malcolm X and “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose, the two articles discuss the theme of the value of education and how each of the authors value education differently from each other. In my personal experience, I relate towards how Mike Rose values education because I also am lazy as well and I tend to slack off and get distracted but a part of me relates towards Malcolm X and how he values education because in my mind, education is extremely important, and it is important to get a higher education which is the reason why I’m in college.
In Malcolm X, he displays a clear recognition of how much he values education while in prison. To prove my point, there was a moment in the text where he states, “I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldn’t even write in a straight line” (X 2). This clearly shows me that he understands how education is important because he is unable to write in a straight line. He did not have a chance to write before because he was a hustler prior to going to jail. According to what he says in the beginning of the article, he states, “The average hustler and criminal was too uneducated to write a letter...privately they would get someone else to read a letter if they received one” (Malcolm X 1). This situation proves that he’s never had to write before because the average hustler is illiterate and cannot read, so they must have someone else read the letter for them.
Conversely, in Mike Rose, however, is that after he is mistakenly placed into secondary school, he starts to show that he devalues education. To prove this, in the article, he makes a point towards the argument of him devaluing education by stating, “I had developed various faulty and inadequate ways of doing algebra and making sense of Spanish...I detested Shakespeare; I got bored with history...and read my books indifferently—the intellectual equivalent of playing with your food” (Rose 2). This proves the point that he starts to devalue education when he was in the vocational school because as stated previously, he says, “He read his books indifferently—the intellectual equivalent of playing with his food” which clearly shows me that he does not care about what he’s learning because it does not garner his interest.
Now, Malcolm X realizes the importance of the value of education when he tries to teach himself how to read and compares it to learning a foreign language. He states in the article, “But every book I picked up had few sentences which didn’t contain anywhere from one to nearly all of the words that might as well have been in Chinese” (Malcolm X, 2). This shows me how much he realizes his issue and wants to improve in this by learning how to read and write. So now he’s about to learn the process of how to read and write. This also proves that his strong illiteracy makes him feel as if he is learning a foreign language such as Chinese, the language he describes, when he starts to read the dictionary for the first time.
The process of learning Chinese is difficult because not only do you have to learn the words and how to speak Chinese but you also have to learn how to write Chinese. Writing Chinese is not easy because there’s not any letters involved; you must learn how to write Chinese characters and that’s how you communicate to other people through Chinese messaging apps and when you write things down on paper. You also must remember that there’s two different types of Chinese: there’s Cantonese which is what people from Hong Kong speak, that’s their native language.
Then there’s Mandarin, which is what people from Mainland China speak. Mandarin is the most popular language in China because pretty much most people speak Mandarin instead of Cantonese. Meanwhile in Mike Rose, because of a tragedy in his family, this causes him to value his education even less then he has before. This situation affected the way he values education. To prove my point, he states in the article that “My father was dead, and I had logged up too many years of scholastic indifference” (Rose 5). This proves that the situation of when his father passed away this was another added affect to make him care even less about school.
Meanwhile in Malcolm X, he learns the significance of the value of education when he teaches himself how to read with the dictionary that he got his hands on. He states all the steps of how he taught himself how to read. He says, “I spent two days just riffling uncertainly through the dictionary’s pages...just to start some kind of action, I began copying. In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks...Then, aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I’d written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting” (Malcolm X 3). This proves to me that he has the dedication to write down all the words from the dictionary on his tablet and then recite it aloud to himself so that he could learn the words and know how to read.
This shows to me how much he values the importance of education because he’s willing to use that time and effort in to learn all the words from the dictionary so that he can read. But on the other hand in Mike Rose, he values education less by being in the vocational school because he feels that he’s not motivated or challenged enough with the class being fairly easy. He implies that he’s not challenged when he states, “During my time in Voc. Ed., I developed further into a mediocre student and a somnambulant problem solver...My attention flitted here and there. I fooled around in class...I did what I had to do to get by and I did it with half a mind” (Rose, 2). This proves to me that he thought although the class was easy for him that he could just slack off. It also shows to me that he did not care anymore because he was unmotivated and not challenged enough by the type of work that was being done in the class because he thought that curriculum should be harder and more difficult for smart and bright individuals like himself.
But eventually Mike Rose started to value his education when he got a new English teacher when he went back to College Prep after his dad just passed away. He states, “Jack MacFarland couldn’t have come into my life at a better time. My father was dead and I had logged up too many years of scholastic indifference…MacFarland’s lectures were crafted…He slowly and carefully built up our knowledge of Western intellectual history-with facts, with connections, with speculations. We learned about Greek philosophy, about Dante, the Elizabethan world view, the Age of Reason, existentialism…We gave oral reports on poems Ciardi didn’t cover. We imitated the styles of Conrad, Hemingway, and Time Magazine. We wrote and talked, wrote and talked. The man immersed us in language” (Rose 5). This situation makes me speechless because the thought that one person comes into Rose’s life after everything that happened to him and was able to turn it around and get him to enjoy school again. It’s truly incredible and unbelievable. Malcolm X and Mike Rose articles both share a common theme in their literacy narratives and that is how they value education. They start to value education by motivating outside factors; for Rose it was his English teacher and for Malcolm X, it was a dictionary that he somehow got his hands on.
In my personal experience, I relate towards how Mike Rose values education because sometimes I tend to not value education as much as I should value it. But a part of me also relates towards Malcolm X and how he values education because, in my mind, education is important, and getting a higher education is extremely important to me. I relate towards Mike Rose because I am a procrastinator, which is someone who waits until the last minute to do any tasks. I would rather watch Netflix or YouTube videos all day every day before I start my homework. Most of the time, I am in a “do nothing” mood a lot and not want to do anything except just hang out. Another reason why I relate to Mike Rose is because I tend to slack off and get distracted a lot which is probably the reason why I have ADD/ADHD combined because I get distracted easily. But a part of me is also like Malcolm X because sometimes I am motivated to do well on a specific subject. I also tend to get extremely focused on subjects I’m interested in. I tend to get in the zone when I’m laser focused and motivated because I want to figure out this one problem for example, in accounting or economics. But most of the time, no one ever sees that side of me because my mood all the time is “I don’t want to do anything at all”.
Overall, in both “discovering the power of language” by Malcolm X and “I Just Wanna Be Average” by Mike Rose, both articles discuss the theme of how each of them values education in their own experiences. In my personal experience, I relate towards how Mike Rose values education because I also am lazy as well but a part of me relates towards Malcolm X and how he values education because in my mind, getting a higher education is extremely important, which is the reason why I’m in college. The reason why this theme is connected between these two articles is because Malcolm X values education when he tries to teach himself how to read and write while Mike Rose devalues education when he must go to Voc. Ed. and because he was unmotivated due to the learning environment. His father’s death also played a part in him not caring about his education as well. But both articles share the common factor of being motivated by an outside factor when it comes to how they value education. One author gets motivated by their English teacher and how the English teacher teaches the class and the other author gets motivated through reading the dictionary and learning how to read.