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This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education PDF, ePub eBook

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This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education

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This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education PDF, ePub eBook José Vilson writes about race, class, and education through stories from the classroom and researched essays. His rise from rookie math teacher to prominent teacher leader takes a twist when he takes on education reform through his now-blocked eponymous blog, TheJoseVilson.com. He calls for the reclaiming of the education profession while seeking social justice. José Vilson José Vilson writes about race, class, and education through stories from the classroom and researched essays. His rise from rookie math teacher to prominent teacher leader takes a twist when he takes on education reform through his now-blocked eponymous blog, TheJoseVilson.com. He calls for the reclaiming of the education profession while seeking social justice. José Vilson is a middle school math educator for in the Inwood/Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. He writes for Edutopia, GOOD, and TransformED / Future of Teaching, and his work has appeared in Education Week, CNN.com, Huffington Post, and El Diario / La Prensa.

30 review for This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jose

    This is my book. Hope you all love it!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Jose has long been an important voice in conversations about education, particularly urban education, and this book may inspire those starting out in teaching (and fortify those who've taught for a long time!), it may inform those who are distant from the realities of the classroom, and it may nudge many of us on various questions about race and culture. There's plenty in here to appreciate. So why 3 stars? (I'd actually give it 3.5 stars if that were possible, because it's better than my other Jose has long been an important voice in conversations about education, particularly urban education, and this book may inspire those starting out in teaching (and fortify those who've taught for a long time!), it may inform those who are distant from the realities of the classroom, and it may nudge many of us on various questions about race and culture. There's plenty in here to appreciate. So why 3 stars? (I'd actually give it 3.5 stars if that were possible, because it's better than my other 3-star books... but not quite as good as many of my 4-star books...) Perhaps because it is based on a blog, the book wanders a bit... It wasn't exactly a collection of essays, but it wasn't exactly a complete narrative or argument, either. I also found some of the pieces much more powerful than others - some great ones are about the ed tech world, and about what Jose learned when he had one foot in the admin world as a math coach, and why he decided to go back to full-time classroom teaching. I also really appreciated the biographical sections of the book. Some of the other parts fell flat for me. Hopefully an honest review is appreciated!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Cruz

    This book really spoke to me and my passion for teaching: "Teaching grasps the soul like a finger probing, not clenching, the heart. It begs you to advocate on behalf of the children, even when you least expect to." This year has been quite a journey! I had the opportunity to hear JLV speak at a conference in San Antonio last year. Ironically, it was a TFA conference (see: chapter on TFA). He was the last speaker on one of the least exciting panels I've ever heard--thankfully, he saved the day b This book really spoke to me and my passion for teaching: "Teaching grasps the soul like a finger probing, not clenching, the heart. It begs you to advocate on behalf of the children, even when you least expect to." This year has been quite a journey! I had the opportunity to hear JLV speak at a conference in San Antonio last year. Ironically, it was a TFA conference (see: chapter on TFA). He was the last speaker on one of the least exciting panels I've ever heard--thankfully, he saved the day by engaging the audience in teacher anecdotes that were relatable, hilarious, and authentic. More than anything, his "voice" as a speaker and writer validates and encourages young teachers like me. In a society that often fails to fully appreciate teachers, JLV's "voice" pushes us to hone our own teacher voice to--as he says--elevate the profession. I highly recommend this book to any educator, student, or person that is genuinely interested in a teacher narrative grounded in love and dedication to our art.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    Teachers have always been my champions and that is why I requested a copy of “This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education” by José Vilson for review. I have followed José’s banter on Twitter for some years now. He has said things that I have agreed with and other things that challenged how I view our education system. The same thing happened as I read his edu-memoir. Clearly something is wrong with our collective public education system. Rather, as Vilson points out, the way Teachers have always been my champions and that is why I requested a copy of “This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education” by José Vilson for review. I have followed José’s banter on Twitter for some years now. He has said things that I have agreed with and other things that challenged how I view our education system. The same thing happened as I read his edu-memoir. Clearly something is wrong with our collective public education system. Rather, as Vilson points out, the way we manage our public education system is deeply flawed. Like an onion, there are many layers to “the problem.” Where Vilson shines is, obviously by the subtitle of the book, peeling back the layers to the race and class challenges our public school system faces. Far too many people still believe that the biggest problem with inner city students of color is that they are headed by a single mother and/or parents are not engaged. Vilson deftly points out that by seeing these as challenges, we are imposing middle-class values on working class or poor families. And the problem with this is that we then ignore the values the students and families bring to the classroom. “When we assume poor kids behave as they do just because of their poverty and not as a manifestation of their frustration with poverty, we do an injustice to their humanity (p 86).” Ever been grouchy when you have to skip breakfast? Imagine if you had little to eat for dinner and then breakfast? No wonder some of our kids are hellions by the time they get to their desks. For the full review, please visit my blog.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Megan Lawson

    I wish that I had read this book before I became a teacher leader. This Is Not A Test is a strong read where Vilson starts the discussion on race and class in education. He makes sure the reader knows that the discussion and awareness of race and class needs to happen among all teachers in a much stronger, more forceful capacity. As a teacher, you must use your voice if you want to see changes start to happen. As I said, Vilson begins the discussion, and that is part of what I enjoyed about this I wish that I had read this book before I became a teacher leader. This Is Not A Test is a strong read where Vilson starts the discussion on race and class in education. He makes sure the reader knows that the discussion and awareness of race and class needs to happen among all teachers in a much stronger, more forceful capacity. As a teacher, you must use your voice if you want to see changes start to happen. As I said, Vilson begins the discussion, and that is part of what I enjoyed about this book. There wasn't anything presented that I hadn't really thought about in bits and pieces before, but Vilson puts it together in a cohesive narrative, pushing for you, as the educator, to take the next step. One of the most influential chapters in the book, for me, came towards the end. Vilson is preparing for a TEDx talk and trying to figuring out what he wants to say and how he wants to say it. While nothing here is groundbreaking, he put into words a series of questions to break down the conversation, why you are doing what you're doing: "What do you want to say? ... Who is your audience? ... How passionate are you about what you're about? ... "What's your solution?" That last step is lost on so many discussions. What's your solution? Yes, everyone needs time to bitch and moan, to recognize that they are not the only one overwhelmed by a system that doesn't exactly work for the teachers or the students, but what is your solution? That's where the discussion needs to end up. I'm going to leave this review with a quote that came at the end of the book, it was something that I think every teacher needs to hear no matter what their level or experience, level of advocacy they pursue, or classroom/administrative situation they find themselves. "You can make the difference. You can prompt students to ask critical questions. You can inspire them to aspire. You can help others understand the true importance of education. You can be as realistic about our country's expectations and as idealistic about our children's futures as you need to be.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brianna Crowley

    A powerful, challenging, and important read for me as I enter my 8th year of teaching. The situations and culture of an urban district feel paradoxically distant and also uncomfortably spot-on to the educational systems which dictate so much of my own daily existence. Some passages struck a chord so deeply that I've now placed them in the "things I carry" to ponder and push me to grow into a better, deeper understanding of a truth. Other descriptions felt like an unbelievable scene from a movie A powerful, challenging, and important read for me as I enter my 8th year of teaching. The situations and culture of an urban district feel paradoxically distant and also uncomfortably spot-on to the educational systems which dictate so much of my own daily existence. Some passages struck a chord so deeply that I've now placed them in the "things I carry" to ponder and push me to grow into a better, deeper understanding of a truth. Other descriptions felt like an unbelievable scene from a movie where I marvel at how a seemingly shared experience can have so little in common. Overall this story was perfectly timed to help me understand how to approach race and teacher leadership in my own classroom and beyond. I highly recommend that you read this regardless of your proximity to a classroom. It will open doors of understanding that you can't predict.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Cruz

    Every educator, ESPECIALLY those of Latino and Blacks students, should read this book. Vilson speaks of the current, strained climate of public education with love (I choked up when reading Why Teach?), nuance, personal experience and humility...it was poetic (literally at some points) and quite beautiful.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rose Peterson

    I so appreciate Vilson's voice, his candor, and his willingness to approach head-on the important topics that are often skirted around in educational writing. Parts of this book memorably resonated with me: the Blue Moon chapter, the class he could never quite get a grip on (and the administrators who never quite seemed to help), the email his colleague sent around "doing it so I don't have to." I felt, though, that the collection lacked cohesion. The book was anxious to include popular educatio I so appreciate Vilson's voice, his candor, and his willingness to approach head-on the important topics that are often skirted around in educational writing. Parts of this book memorably resonated with me: the Blue Moon chapter, the class he could never quite get a grip on (and the administrators who never quite seemed to help), the email his colleague sent around "doing it so I don't have to." I felt, though, that the collection lacked cohesion. The book was anxious to include popular educational topics of all kinds, concluding each essay with a clever, trite little sentence, but didn't necessarily feel like a unified, polished whole.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zacarias Rivera, Jr.

    Jose Vilson's memoir is indubitably inspiring. In it he shares his experiences as a student, and addresses the challenges he faced as a new teacher, his growth amid the educational policies, and his current unwavering determination to speak for fellow educators, parents, and children. He reminded me, through his honest declarations of being told he would get a U rating, of my own first year of teaching, specifically of a time I shed tears after a guidance counselor threatened to tell my immediate Jose Vilson's memoir is indubitably inspiring. In it he shares his experiences as a student, and addresses the challenges he faced as a new teacher, his growth amid the educational policies, and his current unwavering determination to speak for fellow educators, parents, and children. He reminded me, through his honest declarations of being told he would get a U rating, of my own first year of teaching, specifically of a time I shed tears after a guidance counselor threatened to tell my immediate supervisor that I couldn't manage or control my ninth grade class. I was trying my best, but the students were excessively talkative. The guidance counselor herself couldn't keep them quiet while she gave them a presentation. I can relate to many of his experiences with our inner city youth and his unceasing diligence to reach them. Vilson states, "Every teacher, with the right qualities, can contribute to a student's growth as a citizen of the planet. Teaching and learning are amorphous, but when they're happening the symbiosis is undeniable" (213), and "As a teacher you will play such an important part in your students' lives that even when they forget the specifics of what you taught them, they'll remember the feelings and life lessons you left them with, the impression that someone other than their parents (if applicable) cared enough to spur them toward their own successes" (215). That's why he teaches, and why I have taught for 23 years. To all educators, purchase this book. Punto!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Algernon

    Vilson rose to prominence as a blogger writing about education as a middle school teacher in the New York system, and for a poem he wrote and performed at a "Save Our Schools" rally in Washington, DC, from which the title is derived. The book stands on its own as a series of interconnected personal essays, beginning with Vilson's experiences as a student and as an educator in training, and then as an activist educator. It is a heartfelt and passionate defense of teaching as a profession and makes Vilson rose to prominence as a blogger writing about education as a middle school teacher in the New York system, and for a poem he wrote and performed at a "Save Our Schools" rally in Washington, DC, from which the title is derived. The book stands on its own as a series of interconnected personal essays, beginning with Vilson's experiences as a student and as an educator in training, and then as an activist educator. It is a heartfelt and passionate defense of teaching as a profession and makes the case for teachers finding their voice as educators in a process of reform that devalues them.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Amador

    This is Not a Test! I found Jose's blog a few years ago through another favorite blog of mine, jd2718. I've been following his blog, articles he's written and his Facebook page. I remember the day his blog got blocked through the DOE filter and thinking, yup he's made it to the big time. :) His book is similar to his other writing but so much more personal. The feelings he inspires through talking about his upbringing, his students and the education landscape range from amusement to anger. This This is Not a Test! I found Jose's blog a few years ago through another favorite blog of mine, jd2718. I've been following his blog, articles he's written and his Facebook page. I remember the day his blog got blocked through the DOE filter and thinking, yup he's made it to the big time. :) His book is similar to his other writing but so much more personal. The feelings he inspires through talking about his upbringing, his students and the education landscape range from amusement to anger. This book is a must read for any urban educator. Jose has a clear voice that speaks for so many that are not heard. Read this book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yamil Baez

    I only wish I had read it sooner. I currently teach in an urban district high school and found myself validated in the pages of this book. It is a book that points out challenges but doesn't leave you there. Instead you, a teacher, a teacher of color more specifically, are left with something that you own and can use any which way you want--your voice. And if you're not ready, if you're not sure, then you can follow the ever growing of educators of color that are using their voices that speak to I only wish I had read it sooner. I currently teach in an urban district high school and found myself validated in the pages of this book. It is a book that points out challenges but doesn't leave you there. Instead you, a teacher, a teacher of color more specifically, are left with something that you own and can use any which way you want--your voice. And if you're not ready, if you're not sure, then you can follow the ever growing of educators of color that are using their voices that speak to your experiences and love for the teaching profession. Thank you Mr. Vilson for writing this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    For years I've looked for an honest read from a current NYC teacher, something I could identify with and help me process my joys in the classroom and my frustrations with the system, I could not be more grateful for this book. First of all, I admire Vilson's courage as a current teacher to write. Secondly, I feel my own work is reinvigorated now that I'm reminded of why I started teaching in the first place. I'm looking forward to future works by Vilson and will be recommending this not just to For years I've looked for an honest read from a current NYC teacher, something I could identify with and help me process my joys in the classroom and my frustrations with the system, I could not be more grateful for this book. First of all, I admire Vilson's courage as a current teacher to write. Secondly, I feel my own work is reinvigorated now that I'm reminded of why I started teaching in the first place. I'm looking forward to future works by Vilson and will be recommending this not just to my teacher friends, but others who never quite understand what we're up against in our schools.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Fout

    Every teacher, and most of everybody else, needs to read this book. It's so excellent, I can't even pick out a particular chapter as "the best" because they all fit together like puzzle pieces that are each beautiful but only together make the book whole. Literally, I'm considering buying a hundred copies, giving one to every person I know, and then giving the rest to strangers out on the street. So I guess I'm saying you should read this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    I'd been expecting a book that was an analysis of current problems in the education system, but instead this is mostly a memoir. Which is not a bad thing! I like memoirs in general, and Vilson is a great writer, lyrical and engaging. It's just not what I expected. The focus is also much more of his childhood and personal life, with relatively little of the book actually about his experience teaching.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    This is a must read for teachers, especially those who work with students who have been marginalized in the past and present. I have read THE JLV's blog for awhile now and though I do not always agree with his politics, I pretty much agree with his views on education policy. Hopefully this book will encourage more teachers to stand up for their students and themselves.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wendi

    This man is a thinker, and he comes at you fast. Hard-hitting at times, but prescient throughout. He gets it, he's got it, and if you are interested in the "real" aspect of education, from inside the classroom, this is one of your must-reads. He fought to get it published, and I'm betting those who turned him down are regretting it in a big way.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy Crehore

    A must read for anyone involved in education or interested in race and class structures in our society. Vilson is a captivating writer! I love how he presents all of these issues and controversies, and then says, but should any of these keep you from teaching? No. Inspiring read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Fine book--made richer by its structure of connected essays. Here's my review: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teac...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jabali Sawicki

    Dope read. Interesting, provocative, alternative views on ed-reform. Important read for all educators. A good brother, doing important work and offering a needed and relevant voice to current education debates.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Lots to love and learn from here. Tone and transitions were interesting. I felt frustrated at times by the lack of a standard structure but it worked at the end. I think my students will love it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    I saw Jose Vilson perform his poem, "This is not a test" in Washington DC at the Save Our Schools Rally. It's good to read the 'rest of the story.'

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fquerido

    I am a huge fan of Vilson, himself. I'm going to call the book..... ok. I respect him way too much to say anything specifically negative - but I felt a bit disappointed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Cohen

    Here's my review of the book - hope you find the review useful, and end up reading "This Is Not a Test" if you haven't yet. http://dbceducation.com/not-a-test-vi...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tonya Leslie

    A refreshing teacher narrative.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carin

    Very thought-provoking. I would love to hear what my teacher friends think of it! Great read for parents as well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Oramous

    Wow! Such a powerful book. Made me realize I'm an ally to this fight.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Casto

    I have blogged my review of this book on my site, thatmathlady.wordpress.com: http://bit.ly/SRX6hb

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steve Deflitch

    Interesting view of an urban teacher struggling to find how race matters in teaching.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather Hayen

    "When we assume poor kids behave as they do just because of their poverty and not as a manifestation of their frustration with poverty, we do an injustice to their humanity."

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