philosophy Archives - The Jose Vilson


On KRS-One and Why You Should Teach Righteously

by Jose Vilson on May 27, 2010

in Jose



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 …


Last week, I dedicated another blog post to a fellow co-worker who recently passed into another dimension. One’s death is to everyone else’s life what a damp tissue is to someone’s glasses. It doesn’t always change much about the glasses themselves and their density, but it helps them refocus and let you see things a little clearer. After the gathering for Mr. N, I had interesting conversations with fellow staff members, some of whom I’ve even had reservations about. With all the memories people shared about him, the first thing I thought was:

Maybe the only way we grow is if we don’t treat people like cartoons.

Here’s what I mean:

Sometimes, we keep a certain set of characteristics about people. How they act, what they eat, what they don’t like, their reasons for living all become part of this depiction we have about certain people. Over time, this caricature becomes so ingrained in our psyche that, even after not having seen them in years, we still rely on those descriptions to form how we interact with the person in the future.

And that’s good because a) it says that the person’s important enough to remember. Also, it’s also good because there are certain parts of a person’s persona that never change, just become augmented or shift a little bit. However, it’s also fool’s gold because these characterizations lead people to think that we humans aren’t capable of change, and that’s far from the truth.

I know I’ve made certain judgments about people in the past that I’m not necessarily proud of, but over time, as I got to know them a little better and see them in times of conflict and triumph, I get to see another side of them that I’ve never seen before. That shift of understanding came with years of getting to know the person, interacting with them, and not being too quick to judge them. Then, when you don’t see them for a while and don’t interact with them for a while, you’re better suited to greet them.

It’s just a thought I had as that day passed. Nevermind all the characterizations I had of the man when I first met him: mean, overbearing, bitter. What I knew of him as we started interacting more was the man you read about last week. In turn, it must also mean that I too have changed. Not just in my interactions with that one man, but everyone else, too. Nothing changes like changes because nothing changes but the changes, huh?

jose, who wonders what you’re thinking (comment below) …

p.s. – It’s funny that I quote Gary Busey because he’s usually a knucklehead, but gems like the title give him mucho props from me.


Colossal Collisions

by Jose Vilson on May 26, 2008

in Jose

I went with my girlfriend a week ago to the American Museum of Natural History near Central Park (NYC), mainly to watch the movie Colossal Collisions with the voice of Robert Redford (wondrous, really). and it just got me to thinking about our place on this Earth. For all that we clutter our lives with, the politics, debates, bills, social life, anger, hate, and yes, even love and / or lack thereof, we also forget how really infinitesimally small we are compared to the rest of the universe, and even the galaxy. Thus, it’s imperative for us to also keep everything in perspective, even whilst the universe changes all around us.

I think of this today in light of my cousin’s mother’s death. Though I don’t believe I’ve ever actually met her mother, my heart sank when I heard the tragic news. Death is as serious as it gets for us, and what’s more, my cousin came to celebrate life (a birthday) rather than death. This cousin’s been like a sister to me, and to know that this long-time struggle with her mother’s health has come to this, hurts hard. It’s put my own relationship with my mother in perspective, with the tension we’ve had. In light of this recent death, the overall feelings for my mother is that I love her; none of our clashes can compare to that understanding.

Something Robert Redford said caught my attention somewhere between me wondering how they put this production together, and that’s the fact we look at all the major collisions that have happened in our universe, some insignificant and routine while others looked disastrous and cataclysmic. Yet, these collisions also produced Earth, and the Moon, and the universe around us, creating beauty and life all around us. Maybe we can take something away from the much larger celestial beings, as we too clash and burn, and how often, even when it seems the stars above us seem distant, they’re just like us in our rudimentary behaviors.

jose, who often theorizes on humans’ gravitational pull …

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The More You Know, The Less You Feel

April 24, 2008 Jose

I once heard of a young man who thought so critically, and was so intelligent, he had to wear headphones just to tranquilize him. As if the thoughts he had in his head wouldn’t even let him socialize normally with others. I can only imagine how loud he had to put his headphones just to […]

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The Triumph of the Human Spirit

February 4, 2008

Cold Stone Creameries, Saturday.Michael Jackson blaring through the stereos above while some kids dance to it. I’m chillin’ with my girl, scooping up on Cookie Doughn’t You Want Some and bragging to his girl about being a thriller in the sack. A trip afterwards to the Virgin Megastore, and along the way, me giving pound […]

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In Love With Two Women

January 7, 2008

A few weekends ago, I went to AnnMary’s crib, where I got to see Ray and my godson, Josiah. He’s a little browner now (as in more brown, people), and has got the ill forehead. It’s adorable how he’s got a big head like his father and his godfather. I told AnnMary that we might […]

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