Reviews of This Is Not A Test


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Here’s a running list of the reviews that have come in thus far for my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, in chronological order:

Updated (7/9/2014)

“In This Is Not A Test, José Vilson writes a personal narrative that counters folks like Coleman’s concept of education, literacy and language, their valuation of people’s voice and experience. This Is Not a Test is a refusal to be silent. It’s a refusal to capitulate or conform. It’s an expression of a vision where we do give a shit about what you feel or what you think, because we care about people. Because in doing so – particularly in education – we help support one another in growth, in coming-of-age, in learning, and in liberation.”

Audrey Watters, Hack Education
This Is Not a Test (This Is a Review of José Vilson’s New Book)

“At its essence this narrative is an aggressive act in that it addresses race and class through its own codes and it flips the codes of the dominant culture on itself. This is not for the faint of heart. Vilson asks us in education to give up our distanced “professional” self for one that thirsts for understanding and the ability to empower those we teach.”

John Holland, The Learning Studio
Vilson Decoded (A review of This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class and Education)

“The book is a powerful commentary on the world of school today, woven through his narrative as both a student and a teacher. Jose uses the lens of his own experiences to speak to some of the most important issues facing our schools, from issues of race and class in our schools, to the need to understand our students as far more than a test score to answering the fundamental question of “Why Teach?” This is Not a Test is a deliberate creation of both memoir and social commentary that is woven together in such a compelling way as to remind every reader of the power of story to educate us of what we can and should value in our schools and in our society.”

– Chris Lehmann, Practical Theory
This is Not a Review: Jose Vilson’s “This Is Not a Test”

“In Vilson’s struggles with race and education, one hears echoes of W. E. B. Du Bois’s classic work, The Souls of Black Folk. Writing at the turn of the twentieth century when the Jim Crow regime was at the apex of its power, Du Bois took note of the special place of leadership that had been accorded to preachers and teachers within the African-American community. At the head of the church and the school, the two social institutions in which African Americans in the South were able to exercise a small measure of self-determination, the preacher and the teacher were the political and spiritual visionaries of the community, the molders of community thought. According to Du Bois, they ’embodied the ideals of this people—the strife for another and juster world, the vague dream of righteousness, the mystery of knowing.'”

– Leo Casey, Dissent Magazine
The Souls of Black Teachers: Reading José Luis Vilson with W. E. B. Du Bois

Rafranz Davis, Rafranz Davis
This is Not A Test: This is My Reflection

John Spencer, Education ReThink
This Is Not A Test (Review)

Jennifer Berkshire, Edushyster
This Is Not A Test: The Interview

Steve Hinnefeld, INSchoolMatters
“‘This Is Not a Test’: a passionate book on schools, teaching

“He says it in powerful and compelling ways in This Is Not a Test, illustrated by stories from his own life and the lives of his students. Vilson’s deconstructed anecdotes cut through the platitudes of politicians and the endless alibis of central office admins, into the heart of America’s unresolved contradictions: public education and democratic principles; equity and privilege, race and class.”

John Norton, MiddleWeb
José Vilson’s New Narrative

“José Vilson, with his in-class experience and poetic energy, would be the top choice to write A People’s History of American Education. The spirit of Vilson’s argument reaches its crescendo in a poem called ‘This is Not a Test.’ … As a whole, its rhythm and anger is reminiscent of the oeuvres of Amiri Baraka and Allen Ginsberg. One can argue that in “This is Not a Test” the “this” can be symbolically replaced by “school.” It’s tempting to say school is about overcoming hurdles and establishing grit and perseverance. School, believe it not, should be a lesson. The lesson. Not the assessment.”

– Daniel Larkin, Truth-Out
Testing Narrative: José Vilson’s Vision of Race, Class and Education in the US

” If you have ever doubted the commitment of teachers or taken as evidence of the many, a story of a teacher who can’t do simple math, but because of the unions cannot be fired, this book is for you. A simple tale of one man who gets up every day to teach our youth, but also fight for a system that does not test them to boredom, values them as humans, respects their heritage instead of stripping it from the history books, and above all wants every child to not just race to the top, but grasp their dreams and be happy.”

– Veronica Arreola, Viva La Feminista
Book Review: This Is Not A Test

“One way to read Vilson’s memoir is as a journey toward authenticity in the classroom, as he finds ways to reconcile the inevitable tensions that arise from this dual consciousness represented by José and Mr. Vilson. The current NCLB testing regime, with its requirements to rank and sort his students, places the greatest split between these two selves. Vilson is clear what his cause is: it’s not anti-testing as much as it is pro-children. He sees firsthand the injustices and pressures that the current accountability system places on them. But his objections are full of nuance and detail, making them worth listening to.”

– Ilana Horn, Teaching / Math / Culture
Reconciling Dual Consciousness in Teaching

Fred Klonsky, PREAPrez
Jose Vilson’s This is Not a Test is released today.

Bill Fitzgerald, FunnyMonkey
Thoughts on “This Is Not A Test” from José Vilson

Michael Klonsky, SmallTalk
This is not a test…

Jennifer Gonzalez, Cult of Pedagogy
What I Love About Jose Vilson’s This Is Not A Test

That Math Lady, That Math Lady
Book Review: This is Not a Test

NYC Educator, NYC Educator
Summer Reading Suggestion


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