Thursday, May 03, 2007

On “I Just Wanna Be Average”

I've just finished reading Mike Rose's “I just wanna be average”. I know from a brief googling that he was anything but average. He is a professor in the School of Education, UCLA with many awards, a successful writer and teacher. But somehow I can relate to his story, his personal experience during high school that he was misplaced into a Vocational Education due to test result confusion. His test result was apparently got mixed up with another guy named Tommy Rose, who didn't do well in the test. Starting from that point, he was labeled “slow student” and be located in a special class for students who did not perform well academically.
I'm not really familiar with Vocational Education in United States, but I do know that in my country we have similar school. After graduating from junior high, students are then continue to senior high and then university. However, there is other path, after finishing junior high, student can take vocational school. A school which I believe prepares the student for employment right after graduation without having to continue to higher education. Vocational school gives the student basic level of skills for getting a job.
Anyway, that's not what I want to talk about. During the formal education period, I always placed (due to my below average performance) in the lower achievement tier. I never dream of being a top ten students in class, let alone in school. My objective was merely to pass the class and go to the next level. I've had my share of failure, I stayed for 2 years in 4th grade of elementary school. Fortunately, my parent took it well. I had no problem, I was too young (or too ignorant) to even realize that I had wasted 1 year of my life, my parents money and lost almost all of my friends.
Life goes on, I graduated elementary school, breezed through junior high and senior high. Although I feel that I didn't actually breeze, I muddled. I was always just a few grade points more from not passing the class. So, I was really an average student (if not below average). I strifed to be average, I learned, read, memorized, I did everything what I had to do, but half-heartedly. Chemistry classes confused me, Physics made me dizzy, Math frightened me and Economics gave me a headache. I really agree with Rose about how curriculum does not liberate the students, but occupies them. It really does occupied me.
University life was a bit different. I ended up in some private university in my hometown, taking English major. I like English, I like reading and even though I despise public attention, I at least can speak in front of my friends. There I learned that English was not that easy, it was not simple. All these years studying English in public school really deteriorate my English. That was the moment where I meet my most hideous foe in English, in my own term “the math of language”. Grammar, I hate grammar, I cannot stress enough that I don't like grammar. Why? Because I'm bad in grammar, just as I'm bad in math and in many other subjects. I'm lost, even analyzing the simplest sentence left me puzzled. But I still like English, I still read books and poems, listens to songs. I tried to speak English as much as I can. But still, even in University, studying a major which I really like, I'm still an average student. A label that i cannot get off from...

1 comment:

m lim said...

average is what everyone comes out to be when you pool them all and divide by n. so, i think almost everybody in the world is average :)

so, enjoy!