Mike Rose’s mother was a waitress. She worked for years negotiating the complex world of planning around, strategizing about, delivering to, and socializing with customers. She had to master timing, memory, efficiency, and psychology, but if you asked just about anyone, they would have said her work involved no deep thought at all. She had to master timing, memory, efficiency, and psychology, but if you asked just about anyone, they would have said her work involved no deep thought at all. In his important book The Mind at Work. Mike challenges the idea that waitressing is thoughtless, while also looking at the complex intellect of hairdressers, electricians, carpenters, and others in similar professions. This episode of Why? asks us to relearn everything we claim to know about manual laborers and reexamine our assumptions about the role of thinking in jobs.
The son of Italian immigrants, Mike Rose was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and raised in Los Angeles, California. He is a graduate of Loyola University (B.A.), the University of Southern California (M.S.), and the University of California, Los Angeles (M.A. and Ph.D.). Over the last forty years, he has taught in a range of educational settings, from kindergarten to job training and adult literacy programs. He is currently on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.
Rose has written a number of books and articles on language, literacy, and cognition and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Grawemeyer Award in Education, and the Commonwealth Club of California Award for Literary Excellence in Nonfiction. He has also been honored by the Spencer Foundation, the McDonnell Foundation Program in Cognitive Studies for Educational Practice, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Modern Language Association. He was recently elected to the National Academy of Education.
He is the author of eleven books including Lives on the Boundary: the Struggles and Achievements of America’s Underprepared, Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America, The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker, Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us, and Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education.
His website can be found here