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

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It is my view that persons are more likely to ask their own questions and seek their own transcendence when they feel themselves to be grounded in their personal histories, their lived lives. Today I teach Social Foundations of Education to urban teacher candidates. We must be in community.

What follows here are anonymous reflections from five Rutgers-Newark students:. Student 1: This Is Not a Test is an engaging book that gives insight to the world of a passionate middle school math teacher in New York City. As a boy, Vilson lived in an impoverished area and attended both public and Catholic schools.

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

Throughout his schooling he faced racist, insufficient teachers and found himself questioning who he was in the world. As he grew older, he became more aware of the voice inside that was telling him to speak up against race and class issues. As a teacher, Vilson connects with his students because they are growing up in similar circumstances.

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He understands how these students are mostly forgotten by not only society but also their communities. He puts himself on the line by defending his students and works tirelessly to be the best teacher he can be by voicing his opinions about education on his blog and speaking at conferences and public protests.

Student 2: In This Is Not a Test, Vilson is committed to being in the trenches as a student, teacher, social advocate, and a writer. Vilson advocates for teachers to find their voice. He fears that administrators and colleagues deter teachers from speaking up and provoking change within their schools.

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Student 3: Vilson is highly influential to potential teachers. The book is a great contribution to the education field because it discusses very real problems in schools in urban areas. It can benefit the Newark community because it may enlighten teachers of Newark to be strong leaders and fight for their students. Lastly, the book provides a very real perspective to new and incoming teachers of what to expect in their classrooms and equips us with tools we will need to be successful.

Student 4: This Is Not a Test communicates well its thesis and gives the reader room to decide and argue their point of view. It does exactly what it says it will: provide a narrative on race, class, and education. He writes from a place of authority about the absurdity of standardized testing and its failure to meet the needs of a diverse student population. He tells the story of what is happening in the classroom and with the education system moving backwards.

What I Love About José Vilson's "This Is Not a Test" | Cult of Pedagogy

He does not say it is a broken system, but highlights the major setbacks the system is experiencing. Education is very important for the development of children, especially those for whom education may be the only way up, with struggling families and a language barrier; the system fails them because it is ill equipped to help them succeed. An interesting part of his struggle growing up was the racial bias he encountered in high school. Yet I still found myself wondering who the hell I thought I was.

Much better. After somehow graduating from Syracuse with the computer degree in , and spending some time doing unsatisfying work data entry, while living with his mom , Vilson began to find his way toward the teaching profession. After running the admissions gauntlet, he was first denied entry, then two weeks later NYCTF reconsidered and he was accepted into the program. Part Three of This Is Not a Test chronicles his rise into the visible world of education commentary and advocacy, accelerated by the parallel growth of connected educator communities, social media and the many websites and virtual publications hungry for meaty and sometimes provocative content.


We learn of his participation in the Save Our Schools march in Washington, his TEDx talk on teacher leadership and voice, and his growing criticism of oppressive test-driven reform strategies disproportionately visited on the poor and on children of color. Some of us, Vilson tells us, must stick with this — and who more so than the rarest of educators, the Black Latino male middle school teacher.

So be it.

He recognizes he was lucky, and most kids with his history will not be:. It always goes back to the same root: our educational system is meant to keep certain people docile and uneducated.


However, he is not despairing in his summation. So what can we do? Vilson, a Millennial in every way that matters, tells me he thinks GoodReads is a good place for that. He says it in powerful and compelling ways in This Is Not a Test , illustrated by stories from his own life and the lives of his students. It is, indeed, a new narrative, spoken by a still-young teacher whose voice rises from the very center of urban America. At its most revolutionary, the collective of women and men of color in any field see themselves as the spiritual mothers and fathers of those who seek to come afterward.

As a teacher of color, sharing a lived experience with your students makes it imperative to do your best for your students. Tags: class in education high poverty schools high stakes testing Jose L. Vilson race in education teachers of color teaching in middle school This Is Not a Test. John Croft Norton is an education writer and editor. He's the founder and co-editor of MiddleWeb. John also co-founded the national Teacher Leaders Network and enjoys developing and supporting virtual communities of educators and promoting teacher voices.

A wonderful summary. I am a 51 year old, first year teacher.

I appreciate Mr. Our children are struggling in a system which does not consider them, let alone represent them. Thank you, Dave. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Using Arts Integration to Spark Engagement. Inviting Mr. Writing Workshop for 21st Century Students.

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