john lennon Archives - The Jose Vilson

john lennon

John Pushing Paul Off a Roof

You’re not supposed to know when your student is this close to suicide.

You get up in front of the classroom, get students started on their work, and get into the routine. Whether the routine comes from you or them matters little. The room buzzes for a while as they sit, but when the notebooks come out, the notebook pages ruffle, the pencils scratch, and your shoes tap along the aisles and rows you’ve created in your classroom. As you walk up and down the classroom, you check for understanding. Does the student have their objective and “Do Now” ready? Do they look like they’re thinking about the given solution? Does the solution fit in with what they learned the prior year or yesterday? Are you confident they can actually give their answer if called upon in the middle of class?

You’ll ignore their temperaments for a second because the clouds in the sky have yet to give way to the morning.

You start the class and look around the room for signs of intrigue or bewilderment. You’re picking apart the twitches, blinks, and fidgets. You pick the first student to start the conversation. He responds and gets it wrong. You say nothing. You instead point to the next student. She disagrees because he forgot to move a decimal. You ask the room if they agree with that particular statement. Most of them raise their hand, though a couple never do. You choose one student. She says, “I don’t know.” You make a note of it, and simply state, “Of course you know! You must know something.” They shrug. You wait a little. She offers no response. You move onto another student, but keep it in the back of your mind.

You don’t accept non-participation.

You finish the lesson portion in a solid 14 minutes without interruption. You let the students get to their classwork, reminding them of your grading system, and the procedure for how to address questions. You need to take attendance on your iPad, sifting through 28 names you’ve memorized since the second week of school. You look up at the student who didn’t know how to respond to your prompts earlier. She’s fiddling with her pencil, looking studious, impersonating someone who’s interested. You think back to all the times a student ever confided in you that they’ve contemplated suicide, that their homes kept them from doing well in school, that they prefer to have a quiet classroom because they don’t have quiet homes.

That they’d rather not be here. Wherever here is. Last time you felt like that, you disappeared into a vast menu of U2 and Beatles songs and video games, detached from your reality. Daily, you hoped to muster the strength to say that today mattered even when it might have not. You went into a wave of positivity and set goals, unrealistic to the naked eye but it gave you something to look forward to when others couldn’t. Your stoicism and utter professionalism became a guise for a strength you didn’t acquire.

You pull the student aside and prompted a conversation on what happened today. She reiterates her indifference. You keep scratching the surface, hoping to dig just enough to get what’s happening. You find yourself expecting. You get a response akin to “Can I go now?” You ask one more question. She alludes to suicide. You check to make sure she’s going to the “right people” for that, hoping it helps. As a professional, you can’t let off too much emotion because you’re so centered on academics. Your conscience gets the best of you, your strength within these words:

“Listen, if you ever need to talk, I’m here to listen. Just know that there are people who’ve gone through the same thing you have, who’ve felt what you feel, who know what it’s like. It’s not pretty, but just know you are needed. We need you alive and present. And you know what the best part of living? You’re still here. You’re going to be fine. Be strong. Don’t let us down.”

“Thank you, Mr. Vilson.”

“No, thank you.”

Mr. Vilson, who’s all “Jai guru deva om …”



October 7, 2007

John Lennon “Imagine”Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today …

Field Negro’s contemplations about religion, Lupe Fiasco, my grandfather’s memorial service, and other personal issues really had me thinking about the positions I’m taking in worldly issues. It made me think about the existence of Heaven and what it means for so many of us trying to find meaning in our lives. It’s about 12:53pm and normally if I was a practicing Catholic, I’d be in church right now. Instead, I think about why it is I’ve left the pipe dreams the church sold me almost 10 years ago. We’ve become so complacent with everything around us …

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

We’ve sat down and watched as the world around us and everyone else’s individual interests overshadow the collective well-being of the proletariat. It’s almost as if we live our lives wantonly, waiting until the very last moment to reconcile with ourselves and our relationship with the G_d within us. There are wars going on, famine, sexism, racism, unneeded death, and all sorts of pestilence ravaging our world, but many of us accept it because, as much as we preach change, we’re really not.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Even personally, we have issues with our parents, friends, lovers, co-workers, strangers we randomly meet, children, students, employers, … that list is interminable, and yet we constantly try to find a way to find a balance. Some of us go about it one way and end up miserable, while some of us have been successful in that endeavor. I’m personally still trying to keep things in perspective. Maybe it’s my Aquarian nature to think so idealistically about the state of the world, but there has to be a time for us to finally come together.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world …

And I’m not saying some of these issues don’t happen for a reason. Problems throughout the world are in constant reaction to the last action, similar to a pebble in a pond, and the more pebbles you put into the pond, the more the waves crash with each other. Think about the constant intersections of rupture, and somewhere in between them, a plateau of stillness.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Imagine if we weren’t simply searching for utter happiness, but peace. Simply being angry isn’t going to do anything other than alleviate my emotional wounds. Acting and being part of the solution has become so vital to my quest for true peace. Everything is relative, and when we put our lives’ pieces in proper perspective, it becomes a lot easier to imagine that reality …

jose, who wonders if someone noticed the theme since last sunday …

p.s. – Shout-outs to:

AM, who wrote a really good entry about me,

All the Carnivals I forgot to highlight as of late like JD’s Carnival of Math 18,

Evolution’s Carnival of Education 139,

Global Citizenship in a Virtual World’s Carnival of Education 138, and

EducationWonks’ Carnival of Education 137.

I’ll do a better job after this, honest.