thejlv Archives - The Jose Vilson


It’s Just Different [The Three Vilsons]

by Jose Vilson on August 2, 2012

in Jose

I have another confession: I’m still working with a few different Vilsons here.

People assume that by now I’ve closed the gap between the Vilson that works for school and the one that writes in this blog. I wouldn’t say I’m suffering from multiple personality disorder, but let me expound a bit. Recently, someone asked me, in essence, to merge these entities I have into one image I can use at school. I stared blankly at first, but then I gave it about a split-second of a thought. Within that second, I asked myself if my current school is an appropriate setting for this fusion of the very public and vociferous me (who some refer to as TheJLV), the very private and intimate me (Jose for short), and the teacher and instructional coach working to improve his students’ academic futures (Mr. Vilson if you must). In spots, I have certainly let out the other personas; I’ve danced at conferences, exchanged jokes with colleagues, and sung in spaces people normally don’t.

But at school? Split-second over. No. Hell no.

Teacher leaders in most schools ought to heed the words of James Baldwin, who would have been 88 today), when he said, “The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” I would add that the more you start to believe you can become more personal, the more you need to maintain a safe distance. Sometimes, people mistake the professional and the personal sides of you, make their judgments, and take it out on both sides.

Naw, I’m good.

With all the opportunities I’ve been blessed with to grow outside of school, I would prefer not to say too much about this life there, much like I don’t tell too much about this life here. Come to think of it, the classroom and the blog are two spaces where I feel the most passionate, most successful, and often the most disappointment. As much as I’ve celebrated in both of these places, I still have a long ways to go before I’m satisfied with either.

Oh, and I wouldn’t want either to be disrupted by people who don’t understand what I’m doing.

I mean, it’s just different.

Jose, who knows better.


My Philosophy, Part 2011

by Jose Vilson on February 3, 2011

in Jose

Jose Vilson, Beyond 2011

Recently, Chuck Klosterman wrote an exceptional article on contemporary writer legend Jonathan Franzen in GQ Magazine, where Klosterman devotes a significant amount of time to Franzen’s perceptions of himself and people’s perceptions of him. He prefaced the entire article with this fantastic description of Franzen: “Important is a problematic word, particularly when prefaced by the modifier most and especially when prefaced by the modifier only. To classify a man as important is very different from merely calling him great, because an important person needs to matter even to those who question what he’s doing.” He writes later:

GQ: “What’s the least accurate thing anyone has written about you?”
JF: “I don’t read much about myself. I learned my lesson after spending ninety ill-advised minutes Googling myself once in the fall of 2001. I think the whole “Franzen is a spoiled elitist” thing was wrong, although not without a kernel of truth. I do lead a privileged life. I do believe some books are better than others. I do think that mere popularity does not indicate greatness. In those respects, I suppose I’m an elitist. But I think what was meant by the term elitist at the time was the antithesis of what I’ve tried to do as a writer, which is to reach the largest possible audience. I’ve worked so long – and in such a conscious way – to not exclude people. So that was galling.”

What an observation. The frame Klosterman and Franzen set for writers (and anyone who takes themselves seriously) is complex, but straightforward. At once, we’re asked to balance factors of human nature for the betterment of the individual (and the collective). This thought traverses with my personal growth from “hating” to critiquing, from critiquing for the sake of constructing walls to critiquing for the purposes of building communities. I’ve exponentially decreased the amount of gossip surrounding me for the sake of my personal sanity, but also to substitute it for understanding trends amongst the other humans I work with in every sense of the word.

It means that I express myself less in public for the sake of making my seldom points more poignant when I do speak up. I’ve cut my social media blasts in half, but doubled my replies. I’ll still read people’s statements, but if I’m not impressed enough to reply to it, I won’t make indirect comments about it. I don’t participate in chats as often anymore, but when I do, I strive for the pithy, the punctual. I read as often as possible to get more conversations started in person, but it puts me in prime position to distinguish the helpful from the mundane.

I’m encountering lots more mundane., as I’m sure you have.

I know you’ve been following me for the four years (to the day) that I’ve been writing my niche blog, and I have a good understanding of my audiences’ innermost visions. The people want the intelligent, quirky, unrestricted, unfiltered without feeling like they’re being talked down to. They want vulnerability without the pretense of humility. They want education viewed from the people who actually do the work, and a viewpoint on the future with an appreciation of the past and an active present. They want elitism in the form of quality, not class or race.

If you’re one of those people, then this is your blog.

The blog, delicate yet strong in design, hopes to emphasize less on me the person and more my experiences. I’d love for my experiences to reach the largest possible audience because I do believe I share viewpoints seldom expressed in the mainstream, but I also won’t sacrifice my principles for the sake of appeasement or popularity. I love writing because it simultaneously lets me re-enact the facets of my life I’m still trying to understand, but also because I know you are, too. Sometimes you won’t comment, but I know you’re reading, nodding along, retweeting, liking, e-mailing, or telling your class that it’s OK to write with a bit of abandon when your name is on the line.

You’ve seen it done here. Pass it along.

For writers and readers alike, there are three levels of writing. There’s writing where people feel nothing towards, there’s writing people sympathize with, and there’s writing people empathize with. I hope this blog serves more on the third level. It’s like you know exactly how I wanted you to feel.

Jose, who just could. not. wait.