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Ron Jones

Ron Jones
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Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.55

     challenging words:    documentations, skidboards, integration, following, theatrical, self-published, zion, bestseller, award-winning, fascist, interfaith, videographer, prior, anti-war, insight, racial
     content words:    Ron Jones, Third Wave, Sunset District, San Francisco, Bar Mitzvahs, Hot House, Sutro Baths, Fleishhacker Pool, Cubberley High School, Palo Alto

Ron Jones
By Jamie Kee

1     Author, educator, and storyteller Ron Jones is best remembered for his experiment, the Third Wave, which eventually led to his firing as a public school teacher. Most of his career was spent working with people who have disabilities. Jones wrote mostly nonfiction books about his life experiences. Although many of his books were published for family and friends, Jones did publish several award-winning books that are studied in classrooms today.
2     Ron Jones was born in the early 1940s and was raised on 46th Avenue in the Sunset District of San Francisco, California. Throughout his books, he shares what it was like to grow up in his neighborhood during the era of Eisenhower. According to Jones, "There was this primness, and neatness to life in the Sunset. Every lawn was cut the same. People behaved pretty much the same. We played on the streets a lot. My whole childhood was spent on the street...All the families would sit outside." Jones has been able to document his life throughout his books due to his parents' excellent job of chronicling their family life through films and photographs.
3     Jones grew up the child of an interfaith marriage. His mother was Jewish, but Jones was not. Growing up, his family celebrated Christmas, but they would also go to synagogue "whenever the relatives came to town or for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs." Jones remembers the stories told by his grandmother at the dinner table. He learned the most about Jewish life from her and her stories. It was important to Jones's mother that family, both immediate and extended, live together. Since his parents couldn't afford a big house for everyone, the extended family moved to the Sunset. Jones's aunts, uncles, and grandparents all lived on the same avenue.
4     There were many activities available to Jones when he lived on 46th Avenue. Prior to television, most activities took place outside. Every week the family would go to the Hot House at the beach to enjoy enchiladas. As a child, Jones would also walk to the beach several times a week to enjoy Playland. For a dime, he could get into the fun house. Jones remembers surfing at Kelly's Cove and making skidboards to ride the waves. He would even skip school to swim at Sutro Baths or Fleishhacker Pool. According to Jones, "Our lives were exciting because they were outside mixing with people, they weren't inside."
5     After completing his master's degree in education and international relations, Jones was enthusiastic about his first year teaching position as a history teacher and basketball coach in 1966 at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto. In the spring of 1967, he was asked a question from a social studies student that prompted a experiment later known as the Third Wave. Jones decided to simulate the events in Germany after a student asked about the responsibility of the German public for the rise of the Third Reich. What started as a one-day fascist state experiment in following basic instructions, turned into five days of lessons in "Strength Through Discipline" and "Strength Through Community." The students learned proper sitting positions, a class salute, marching, and other fascist attitudes. They created Third Wave banners, armbands, and membership cards. The group began as one class of 25 sophomores, but it turned into over 200 members, with students skipping other classes in order to join the Third Wave. Even Jones found himself caught up in the Third Wave, and he struggled for days trying to figure out how to end the experiment. After five days, the students, Jones, and even the school learned how easily a society of people can be swayed. Jones has been quoted as saying, "I'm not proud of the Wave but I can't escape it! It is like a calling that just gets louder! For me, the Wave is a story of ghosts. What we can be. The allure of good and evil. Choices."

Paragraphs 6 to 13:
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