Rose starts this segment of the article describing his early school years refuting the idea that “the classroom” could be an “oasis of possibilities” for a working class kid working their way out. He describes how often he mentally withdrew from the activities of the classroom. On page 19, he realizes “how consistently [he] defended [himself] against the lessons [he] couldn’t understand and the people and events of South LA that were too strange to view head on.” People usually defend themselves from something they feel threatened by. Read between the lines: What do you think Rose means by this? What was it he couldn’t understand, what was so strange about the people and events of South LA such that he felt the need to defend himself by not “viewing [them] head-on” (p. 18). This is a Text+Me question.
I think rose means that if he worked hard in class his opportunities in life could have opened up more doors from him. He talked about how when he started reading and found interest in books and not in class. I think that he found out later in life that if he had worked hard and paid attention in class he could have had better grades. He probably thinks that if he saw more hardworking people in the environment that he was in he probably would have had a better work ethic in school.
Re-read pp. 19-22 about the chemistry set and young Rose’s love of reading. What does this section say about how reading and exploration figured in to his boyhood sense of self and his sense of a future? Compare and contrast Rose’s feelings about reading to Coates’s and the future opened up for Rose to the future opened up for Coates. This is a pull-it-together question.
Rose found himself indulging himself in books and becoming fascinated with space and SyFy type of books. And when he got the chemistry set from his parents he curiosity took off and was fascinated with how it worked. This exploration made him curious and that curiosity helped him become more thoughtful and his imagination took off. Rose had more of a childhood of reading and discovering who he was and wanted to be. Coates childhood had more of reading and discovering who his family was and how his identity became what it was.
In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that the “laws of school” were aimed at something vague and then goes on to reveal precisely what the laws of school for black boys and girls were for. What are the “laws” of Rose’s Catholic school? What are the laws aiming to teach? To what degree are they teaching similar things as the laws at the schools Coates attended? What’s different?
Coates when to a school with a lot of gangbangers and Rose went to a school with kids I would assume had some money to afford it and they were troublemakers but not to the extent that I could see that kids from Coates school were. Rose didn’t mention on kid was 16 dealt drugs and was rumored to be a pimp. Coates mentions kids that you stay away from because those kids will jump you.