Step Away From The Children - The Jose Vilson

Step Away From The Children

May 3, 2012

Nope. I’m not going to let you get away with it.

You think you’re slick with your off-kilter jargon and smooth delivery, but I see right through you.

Before I continue, I need you to step away from the children.

You’re passionate about your subject area, but not about the kids you’re teaching. You say you love teaching, but never actually want to talk to the kids before or after class. Actually, you don’t actually want to talk to the kids, but at them. You refuse to understand where they’re coming from and defer to good old days that never actually happened in times that weren’t as gilded (trust me). You think the kids are cute, but hate the adults they become, no matter what they become.

You read this blog thinking I’m some exception, but don’t want to see our kids as exceptional in their own way.

You keep telling people that not every child is going to college, but are fully OK with children from your family or background getting every opportunity handed to them to succeed as college grads. You think my skin is the only reason why kids might gravitate towards me, yet you refuse to ask what else I’m doing. You look at custodians like serfs and vagabonds instead of people just like you who have kids to feed. You think it’s OK that the demographics in our central offices are the cultural inverse of the populations of children we have in schools.

You think I should come into discussions on race and class with a Coke and a smile.

You question every thought your colleagues have because of their appearances without wondering how they got there. You never realize why you don’t have the buy-in from the students, so you make your lesson plans and maps difficult enough for administrators to admire you. You don’t get why I get frustrated with kids who don’t even make an attempt at the math, and why I still keep kids who are failing their classes under my wing. You think what’s happening in schools right now is just fine, but would never accept that for yourself … or your children.

Your discriminating tastes make you and everyone else around you bitter.

Do us a favor; step away from the kids. And watch the door behind you, because I’m swinging it hard.

Mr. Vilson, who tries to be fair …

This post was written by...

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.

For more about me, read here.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy May 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm

This? Gave me LIFE.

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Bill Ivey May 3, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Loved it. Terrified by it. More convinced than ever the profession needs as many people like you as we can get.

Reply

David B. Cohen May 4, 2012 at 12:23 am

Particularly liked the line about keeping kids under your wing, even if they’re failing a class. Go figure, huh? A Coke and a smile indeed!

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Jen May 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

I realized at some point that some people look at themselves (what can I do differently, what about me can be changed to avoid these problems, what are other people doing that I could do to be better) to see what can change for the better.

Other people look around them and see all the ways other people and things have to change before their talents and abilities will be able to shine through.

An extreme of the first can lead to burn-out (it really isn’t all up to *just* you), while the extreme of the second just leads to more years of wondering what the hell is wrong with everyone else. It’s too bad that the latter way seems to be more conducive to long careers in many cases.

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Carrie Kamm May 4, 2012 at 9:06 am

Something prompted this blog post from you. I am sure these thoughts and ideas have dwelled within you, but I’d love to know what you observed, heard, or felt that made you need to write this post this week. For me, reading Lisa Delpit’s latest book has brought many of these same sentiments to the surface for me in a way that feels more present and urgent.

Thank you, as always, for sharing yourself with us.

Reply

Jose May 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I got your blog post coming up right now.

Reply

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