When the Light Goes On: The Life-Changing Wonder of Learning in an Age of Metrics, Screens, and Diminished Human Connection (Hardcover)

When the Light Goes On: The Life-Changing Wonder of Learning in an Age of Metrics, Screens, and Diminished Human Connection By Mike Rose Cover Image

When the Light Goes On: The Life-Changing Wonder of Learning in an Age of Metrics, Screens, and Diminished Human Connection (Hardcover)


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The final work from one of the most beloved voices in American education explores stories and lessons of transformative experiences in education

For more than a generation, American education has been structured as though it was built of and for concepts, not people. This has transformed education into a vast assessment, scoring, and ranking enterprise; a sales platform for high-tech entrepreneurs; and a fiercely competitive arena of advantage and status that grinds the poor and propels the middle class into debt.

In When the Light Goes On, educator Mike Rose features the stories of people of all ages and backgrounds to illuminate how education has added meaning to their lives. The inspiring stories include:

  • A supermarket checker whose job wore away his soul takes a remedial math class that starts him on a path to architecture school
  • A young man badly injured in a motorcycle accident finds both rehabilitation and a career in a welding program
  • A transgender youth’s odyssey to self-definition extends though courses in social sciences and campus advocacy groups
  • A Native American athlete finds graduate study as a way to use her celebrity to articulate the needs of her people

When the Light Goes On helps us dig through the discord and fragmentation of school politics and policy to reclaim the mind and heart of education. Through various students’ stories and his own, Rose provides an urgent reminder of the core purpose of education: to learn about ourselves and the world around us, to spark new interests, and to experience with guidance both the fulfillment and the uncertainty of exploring our limits—all in the service of creating a meaningful life.
Mike Rose was an education scholar and author of 11 books. He was a research professor at the University of California-Los Angeles’ Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. A popular contributor to national media as well as commercial and academic literature, Rose has written approximately 125 opinion pieces, commentaries, and essays.
Product Details ISBN: 9780807008539
ISBN-10: 0807008532
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: February 28th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English
“[The author’s] inspiring accounts offer strong testimony.”

“Mike Rose’s masterful final book, When The Light Goes On, is a reflection on the beauty and magic of learning. But it is not only that—it is also a much-needed reframing, for policy and practice and research, of what learning is and how we talk about it, foster it, and measure it. With meticulous detail and artful storytelling, Rose brings to life the moments when learning changes everything—life trajectories, identities, intellectual engagement, futures. It is fitting that this is his final work, laced with both fear about the state of education and hope that we could reach for something more humanizing, richer, and more connected to the lives and personhood of learners.”
—Dr. Na’ilah Suad Nasir, president of the Spencer Foundation

“Mike Rose had a unique voice. He was not in the thick of policy battles. He worked on a different level, seeking to understand people and their lives.”
—Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools; former US assistant secretary of education; and founder of the Network for Public Education

“The particular way [Rose] saw the world resonates more than ever before as our debates about the future of school and work only intensify. He argued with care and eloquence that we risk too narrow a view of the way the physical, the human, and the cognitive blend in all kinds of learning and in all kinds of labor. Mike Rose’s intelligence would enlarge our civic imagination on big subjects at the heart of who we are—schooling, social class, and the deepest meaning of vocation.”
—Krista Tippett, On Being

“[Rose] had a keen gift for uncovering, through intensive one-on-one work with writers, the deep (and often poignant) logic behind surface errors. His work heralded a paradigm shift in the way that writing is taught in our educational system, from elementary school through college.”
—Kevin Dettmar, The New Yorker