Design of a Decade: Moments From 10 Years Of Writing

Jose VilsonJose3 Comments

One of my first website looks.

People forget that, ten years ago, the idea of blogging aloud made no sense to the average reader. The mainstream media had the stranglehold on public opinion, and trying to get an op-ed into any space requires a lot of know-how and a little know-who. Teachers were always talked about, but few were given the space to opine on education policy save for those connected to education professions or multi-million dollar non-profits. And even then. Social media wasn’t a “thing,” though I was already on Facebook. Some people still didn’t know what to make of education reform, and I was still working on my teaching craft.

So, instead of waxing nostalgic about how spectacular my blog is, I’ll just tell you what’s kept me writing. The one comment from a student who didn’t come out yet to his parent, but found strength in a story I shared about my student going through his journey. The letters I’ve received from educators across the nation who needed to know they weren’t alone in their thinking, and the ones who stayed one more year as a result. The tweets from people who aren’t in the education field but read my blog to get a better understanding of a teacher’s perspective. The professors who changed their syllabi to accommodate for conversations about race, class, and intersectionality, helping future teachers get better at their craft. The policy wonks and policymakers who had to take a step back after someone shared a post of mine with them.

The central office staff who blocked my blog, and the staff from within my school who tried to stir up trouble in my school about me blogging, too. They were often the reason why we need this change in our education system. Not all of “they”, but a good number.

Now, there are way more teacher bloggers, many of whom have their own niches. I’m happy for them. Yet, I’m happier for those who’ve found ways to make themselves vulnerable, open, and complicated. It’s cool to have something to write about, but my search wasn’t for page views, but for unearthed truths. Teaching is hard enough, and, if we continue to treat it as anything less than arduous, we do this writing a huge disservice. Instead of worrying about lists, books, or appearances, here’s hoping future teacher bloggers worry about the craft of writing and the ways we communicate what happens in education from here on out. I’m hoping this new set of bloggers eschews simple narratives about different groups and, instead, deals with the toils, the blunders, the aspirations, and the triumphs of the things we do. I don’t need a bunch of doppelgängers, either. Everyone comes to this work differently.

Like I was hoping to do back in 2006. Are you with me for the next 10?

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 3

  1. jonpelto

    As always, a powerful moving post that made me think about how we can all strive to make a difference. My blog is but 5 years old this month but your work inspires! Here is to the next 5 and 10! Thank you for all you do

  2. Constance

    Dear Jose, I am a home schooling mom, & of course a former math student, who wishes I’d had a math teacher like you. For all the reasons you keep going, and for all the reasons you continue to blog, I am grateful. During my own school years, I became lost in math and foever stunted (my fault now, but I feel mathaphobic). Fortunately, my ineptitude has not been passed down. Although neither I nor my college freshman’s father did well in math, an after-school teacher (hired as a tutor) made all the difference. She had my then middle-school daughter drill in differnet ways of doing math until she got it, then went on to love it. Today, my daughter is an engineering student at Georgia Tech–I still can’t believe that–and she describes math as elegant, and joyful in its logic. I am overjoyed. Math proficiency has opened the door to so many possibilities for her. Wish I could come sit in your classroom, or send my three younger daughters to be taught by you. Hats off to your caring and your effort. Thanks for staying with teaching! I know you are making a difference for so many people. By the way, I plan to order your book and can’t wait to read it. All the best.

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