edubloggers Archives - The Jose Vilson


Some Educators Love The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

by Jose Vilson on September 18, 2012

in Jose

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

As a new father, I’ve memorized the theme songs to every Disney Channel show from Little Einsteins to Doc McStuffins. Personally, I’m a fan of Handy Manny and Octonauts, but only because my son smiles so hard at “Creature report! Creature report!” Frankly, I can’t hate on any of the aforementioned shows because I watch them pseudo-religiously.

Even The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has its redeeming qualities. With characters that haven’t changed in decades, the MMCH’s cast has a favorite character for just about everything, and the show’s prompts don’t ask us to think for longer for a few seconds about solutions to the problems posed by their journey in the jungle.

Lot like the education thought leaders I still see the blogosphere.

I mean, after the last time I went after such leaders (and you thought it applied to you), you did all the right things. You highlighted educators of color, went to their schools, and took pictures with as many multicultural kids as possible to prove your worth. You might have favorited my post secretly in one of your social networks, and then whispered to a friend who’s better at these things than you, “So what’s that Jose Vilson guy talking about?” You might have even taken up an issue that gives you an edge like excessive testing and said, “I’m done.”

No, you’re actually not.

Because, like the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, people think that by sticking to the same cast of characters in their circles, they can sanitize their existences from the harsh realities of the -isms. As if discussing educators’ wages isn’t an effect of sexist attitudes towards women. As if furloughing cohorts of teachers in urban and rural school districts doesn’t hurt the already tenuous numbers of Black and Latino educators in classrooms. As if property taxes don’t already skew monies away from our poorest children.

To make matters worse, some education thought leaders may use the words “poverty” and “race” from time to time (because we are post-racial), but their inner circles never ever change. Their comfort zones already barred, guarded, and gates, they rely on the same tools, songs, and dances to make sure they don’t “lose their way.” Even when they do something outside of their own boxes, it’s done in parody, knowing that they’ll jump right back into the format of their 30-minute episodes the minute the gig is up. The episodes start and end with a ritual that assures that no one can have fun in that house.

Only through a TV. Observing through a glass.

That seems to work very well for Mickey’s gang, as well it should. Millions follow it. But we can’t change anything if we operate under the same structures others do. A mousketool, dohickey, or whatchamacallit won’t do it. Coming on the defensive about how many tweeters of color you know before realizing you only know three won’t count (though it cracks me up every time). Conversely, I can’t be the only one to bring it up when it’s happening.

But I still do. Hot dog.

Jose, who speaks to it because it’s necessary.


Your Favorite EduBlogger’s Favorite Edublog?

by Jose Vilson on May 24, 2010

in Jose

Precocious Kid's X-Mas List

Precocious Kid's X-Mas List

Another day, another list of edubloggers I may or may not have made it on.

This conversation trickled down via Teacher Magazine, then the Teacher Leaders Network, and it has some people up in arms about why some of the same bloggers get chosen for these and they exclude others. Even my friend John Holland, whose Pre-K Now made it on the list, didn’t have nice things to say about Rasmussen’s list. He says,

I think these folks had a narrow idea of what “best” would be before they made the list. My work on Pre-K Now is very easy to swallow where as some of my other writing is a little less easy. I am appalled that Nancy [Flanagan], Bill [Ferriter], and Jose aren’t on the list but, none of the three of them are easy consumption material. They are all difficult and demand something of the reader.

Jose’s tag line is “Its not about a salary, its about reality.” and that pretty much “sums” (wink) it up for this brilliant writer about the reality of being a middle school math teacher in NYC, Washington Heights. He tackles subjects that most teachers, including me, would never tocuh. Not even with a ten yard stick. He writes with such lyricism and passion that we can taste the chalk dust in his classroom. Does he talk about more than just education? Yes, but thats the point, teachers are more than just educators, they are human  beings. Teachers are within a system that they are constantly defending with students and fighting as professional. Jose is not an easy read, and that is why he should be read.

[Emphasis mine]

At this point in my writing, I’m participating in the honest conversations we need to have about the state of education, and with people who I consider awesome allies in that fight. People on the local level and the national level want to engage in constructive, critical conversation about the things that not everyone’s talking about. They want to understand the rationale behind our most desperate children, or put words to why there’s something just not right about those creepy pro-charter commercials on TV. They want to encourage others to join teaching as a profession without feeling like they’re advertising for a camp. They want their voices amongst the others who have a say in the national conversation about everything.

That’s why I write, too.

Lately, I’ve ended up on a couple of honorable mention type lists, which either means I’m doing a great job at being understated or a bad job at tailoring my message for the mainstream. Or both. Which works just as well for me. I have a great group of readers who want to further the dialogue of our critical pedagogy, who can’t sugarcoat the raw experiences of America’s youth and the positive and negative repercussions of our collective consciousness as they affect education, and who find inspiration in the work they do.

Readers like you.

Am I your favorite edublogger’s favorite edublogger? That’s not so sure, but if I am, then that’s a list I’m privileged to be a part of.

Jose, who has his book giveaway in two more days …


Whenever You Get Those Moments, You Blog About Them

by Jose Vilson on February 23, 2010

in Jose

Blogging Requires Passion and Authority

This morning, Bill Ferriter on Twitter ranted a bit about an e-mail from a disgruntled hater who called his blogging an exercise in self-fellaciating (if that’s even a word). Naturally, Bill was quick to distinguish between those who believe that their blogging not only becomes a central part of the reflective process for their practice and those who simply use it to show off a little. Do edubloggers really reflect in these given venues? How much of it would we consider constructive and fructuous labors that push the national agenda for the teaching profession and how much of it do we see as an exercise in futility and self-serving, looking for pats on the back for doing what they’re supposed to do?

I thought I had a real answer to this question until I finished teaching the morning. Topic: angle relationships with two parallel lines cut by a transversal. Yesterday, I prepared them for the topic by introducing a visual glossary for them to use, reminding them of all the names of the angles they’d seen since 6th grade. They were sharper than I thought they’d be, actually using words like complementary and supplementary to discuss the relationship between some of these adjacent angles. Of course, we had to work through some of the harder problems, like when the sum of two adjacent angles was equal to one whole vertical angle, but then they were steam-rolling through these relationship. Even with the little annoyances, I was rather satisfied with how it went today.

So satisfied, in fact, that I stopped with about 2 minutes to go, where my students started annoying me (in a good way this time). They discussed some of the images they found of me on Google Images, and the social networks I might be on, including Twitter.

One of my smart-asses said, “Yo, Mr. Vilson, I got 100,000 followers.” I told him, “Maybe you should watch your house.” Laughter ensued.

Moments like this make me wonder what teaching was like when we didn’t have to worry about some little curmudgeons and sycophants crunching in numbers, making equations, and churning out pretty pamphlets for mass consumptions trying to establish a firm relationship between standardized test scores and true teacher effectiveness. These moments I share with anyone willing to subscribe to my rants, or accidentally run into this mess through a string of search terms or a click from a referral.

And I guess that’s the whole point of blogging. In spaces where critical feedback and camaraderie may not exist within a school (for various factors), the ability to make one’s own network of professionals willing to discuss critical issues has become paramount for growth.

In other words, blogging isn’t about us specifically.

That’s the whole point of doing what we do. Even when it’s completely non-sequitur, there’s an understanding with edubloggers who take this seriously that there are people of like minds and interest willing to share in their experiences, often hoping they’ll get pushed further in their profession.

Even if the moments are ridiculous. At least I know someone’s reading it. And nodding along.

Mr. Vilson, who has mannerisms even my kids are starting to imitate well. Ugh …


We’re All We Have

March 31, 2008 Jose
A picture I took of the Teachers Exposed ad in Times Square, NYC

What have I learned from being an “edublogger”: 1. Make sure you have a good schedule for everything. 2. Have a good stable of blogs to read about any and everything so you keep abreast of the latest and greatest. 3. Differentiate between the personal and the professional. As far as what I believe, we […]

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