On KRS-One and Why You Should Teach Righteously

Jose VilsonEducation, Jose9 Comments



On Monday, Law and Order premiered its episode about a mad teacher blogger who was ready to blow up a random NYC school for all the wrongs done to him and others like him, an episode aptly named “The Rubber Room.” Many of the stories I heard in the episode mirrored the real situations those teachers went through (and still go through) in the NYC school system. I’ll never be indignant enough to replicate the actions of the teacher blogger in the episode, but it led me to think about teacher blogging as a whole and why I blog. For more than half the episode, the blogger went by a pseudonym and only bloviating on his premeditated doomsday, never validating his profession with real accomplishments.

That’s why you, the reader, and I need to put our names to our works. In terms of Internet currency, it’s better than putting our money where our mouth is.

The most popular blogs tend to have a pseudonym that typifies the type of person the blogger is. Before I ventured into blogging under my own name, I had the comfort of hiding behind my nickname and discuss my job as I pleased … until I found out that people forwarded my posts to other people. I didn’t know where they forwarded them to, but if they ever got back to my boss, I knew I’d need a good strategy for keeping my job. I slept on this idea for a bit. Then, I woke up and thought about how much of an impact I made with my Internet colleagues and prospective teachers by speaking about my victories and frustrations with teaching.

Under a pseudonym, I was a nobody with a bunch of ideas. As Jose Vilson, I was a person anyone could look up (school and all) and verify truths and statements. Less commenters, more readers. Less cursing, more transparency. I had more credibility, and that puts more power into the things I say. Enter KRS-One:

Boogie Down Productions is made up of teachers
the lecture is conducted from the mic into the speaker
Who gets weaker? The king or the teacher
It’s not about a salary it’s all about reality
Teachers teach and do the world good
kings just rule and most are never understood
If you were to rule or govern a certain industry
All inside this room right now would be in misery
No one would get along nor sing a song
’cause everyone’d be singing for the king, am I wrong?!

– KRS-One, “My Philosophy”

No, KRS isn’t. There are two parts we should recognize with the previous lyrics. The first, of course, is that KRS-One is one of the greatest MCs of all time, but also the most contradictory. And that’s why people love him. Even on days when his opinions seem off-kilter to some, we have to respect what the man says because he’s so outspoken and lucid when it comes to his opinion. (We can extrapolate Five Percenter language as long as we’re true to the message, here.)

Secondly, his priorities align more to ours; he values the connectedness of teachers over the aloofness of rulers. Teachers push us to think critically whereas rulers push men and women to concede to their demands. That’s why it’s not about a salary, and it’s all about reality. The idea of poor righteous teachers doesn’t mean that we’re settling for less; it means that our pedagogy is inclusive of all who desperately need their voices elevated. That means you.

As I look at the edublogosphere, I see the trend leaning towards those who want to use their full names behind their blogs, even those who’ve achieved notoriety with their blogs. We have to keep putting pressure on governmental agents to include our voices in the dialogue for educational change. We have to keep writing, keep contributing to our communities, and keep our names on the front lines. When the educational boogeymen switch names but don’t switch agendas, we have to stand tall next to them holding them accountable. We may not have the money for mailings, but we have Google and Bing. We don’t have NY1 or local news stations, but we have Facebook and Twitter. We don’t have politicians in our back pockets, but we do have YouTube and Ning.

After honing that power, developing relationships with each other as a community, and investing in that power with our names, we’ll do more than get 1-sided 30 minute interviews with salesmen. We’ll be teaching. To the nation.


Thank you to Keishla for reminding me about this.

Mr. Vilson, who sites this as a resource from here on out …

Comments 9

  1. The pseudonym thing, it’s an issue I wrestled with.

    My first solution – semi-anonymity – you could figure out who I was, and I wrote like I would be identified – but no name on the blog –
    it got semi-shredded as more and more people knew who I was and people accidentally posted my id, and one guy did so intentionally –
    so that led to

    My second solution – my name’s on my blog – not a secret, but I don’t sign it, and I run with jd (the pseudonym). And yet

    I still wonder about your solution. The argument is powerful.

  2. Well, you and many others know who I am. But if I give up the pseudonym, I can no longer write about kids the way I want to. I think some of the best things I’ve put out are about kids, and I only regret I lack the wisdom to more frequently identify things about them worth writing about.

    They’re really much more interesting than we are, though I’ll deny having said that if you repeat it in front of them.

  3. Post

    Wow, thanks for all the awesome comments. Let me reply to a few of you:

    Jonathan, it seems to me that you’ve found a means to negotiate the blogger with the person in such a way where now people can’t use the “anonymity” against you anymore. After all the incidents (that, yes, I read about), I find that having your name on your blog just takes the bullet out of the proverbial gun. People can’t take shots at you with weaker bullets, so to speak.

    Esteban, if my kids are reading this, that’d be great. I also don’t really want them to read this since it’s easily misunderstood and often misinterpreted by adults. With that said, I try to bring that mentality into the classroom where possible.

    NYC Ed, you’re right: I do know who you are, which makes your writing even more powerful for me. I think there is some truth to writing about your kids, though, and I feel it too. I have to be delicate when it comes to those things, even if it’s harmless. Otherwise, I’d say you and your blogger alter ego are one and the same. Honestly.

    Maura and David, thanks for dropping by. I’m glad we extrapolated something positive from this.

  4. I use my own name, but I try not to mention exactly where I teach. I guess part of me was thinking the same thing as you, wondering if I’m ever going to have to explain myself to a boss. Well, we have a different boss every year, I’ve already gone through a handful of them, and if I know anything about my district, nobody is looking around online. My school would have to get a site first, right now we don’t. Plus, we have such high turnover at my school, we are to the point where it seems like if you have a pulse you can work here. So I guess I’m trying to stand strong, tell it like it is, and let people know it is me, and what I am doing takes place in reality, not under an assumed identity.

  5. Post

    Matt, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Very good. Brave. And you’re lending power to your words like that. I know they’re searching for us in the NYC districts because many of our sites are blocked by the DOE. If we just ran little sites, then it wouldn’t be a problem. Apparently, we’ve caught the eye of some people in Central. It’s cool.

    Keep on keepin’ on, Matt.

Leave a Reply