Summer Reading, part two: This is Not a Test by José Vilson

July 21, 2014 by Bill Ivey

I don’t ordinarily make a habit of ordering books before their release date, but I made an exception for This is Not a Test by José Vilson. I knew the strength, power, and scope of his writing through various publications in forums such as Huffington Post, his blog, and Twitter. Mr. Vilson can put a book’s worth of thinking into 140 characters, so I couldn’t wait to see what he could say in 220 pages. The subtitle, “A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education” is apt. In the book, José has woven together memories, commentary, and calls to action in a way that compels readers to think honestly about the educational landscape in our country, the cultural context that helps create it, and what our own role is and should be in shaping it in the future.

When the book came, I decided to set it aside until the summer came so that I could savor it with little else to distract me. When I finally opened it, I fairly flew through “Part One” which takes us through his childhood and ends with his decision to become a teacher as his college graduation date approached. One moment particularly stuck out to me, when he describes giving a correct answer (“D”) in class only to have the teacher respond, “What?” He gave the answer again, and again the teacher responded, “What? I didn’t hear that.” He startled the class by shouting the answer, at which point the teacher dismissed him with a “Well, you don’t know anything, so I’ll move on.” The teacher called on another student, who gave the exact same answer and earned the teacher’s praise. (p.47) “How could this happen?” I asked myself, feeling sick and knowing the answer in my heart, knowing the same general dynamic plays itself out over and over, if not always that overtly, when people of privilege have power over the historically oppressed.

Filed Under: On Education, anti-racism, social justice, diversity, In the Classroom, Jose Vilson, Education

Other People's Kids

February 19, 2014 by Bill Ivey

Last fall, when one of my advisees was given the chance to write about what she liked about this school, she focused on growing up with a bunch of annoying brothers and how great it was to be in the dorm and feeling sisterhood. When shared with other people, the line always draws a laugh, but it can also cause a moment of introspection.

Filed Under: anti-racism, diversity, Mike Thayer, Current Events, racism, Jose Vilson

Rousing Boldness and Courage

December 09, 2013 by Bill Ivey

What do I need this morning, I asked myself as I surveyed the choices at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters. Should I engender zest and alacrity? That would be First Light. Invite goodwill? Hazelnut. Inspire deep reflection? French Vanilla. In the end, I chose to rouse boldness and courage, and pressed the top of the air pot to fill my cup with French Roast.

Filed Under: Christina Quattrocchi, On Education, Rafranz Davis, school reform, Current Events, Jose Vilson, Education

In Visible

July 23, 2013 by Bill Ivey

"I guess my position on race is....I see no color. I am an American." - tweet posted July 19, 2013

Filed Under: gender, gender stereotypes, anit-rascism, social justice, Feminism, In the Classroom, Stephen Colbert, SOC, Current Events, Jose Vilson

Songs in the Key of Life

March 18, 2013 by Bill Ivey

(title taken from the title of Stevie Wonder's masterwork album, released in 1976)

Filed Under: Teaching, School Happenings, gender, Bill Ivey, 141 Reasons, Beautifully different, finding your voice, diversity, Rock Band, All Girls Education, Feminism, Performing Arts, performing, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Jose Vilson

Seeing the Trees Within the Forest

February 26, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Sometimes, you can't see the trees for the forest. Especially when your eyes are deliberately closed.

Filed Under: Middle School, Teaching, gender, The Girls School Advantage, On Education, Bill Ivey, diversity, All Girls Education, Feminism, Performing Arts, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School, Women in media, Oscars, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Jose Vilson

Fight the Power

February 21, 2013 by Bill Ivey

Recently, I had the chance to touch base with Sally, our Head of School, about some of the more political blogs I've posted here recently. I wanted to thank her, because I know that by no means would every school offer me the degree of freedom that I have here. She told me she views this school as being about finding one's authentic voice, which was in one sense an eye-opening moment for me. Of course, that is a major part of our mission statement for what we do for our students, and of course, role modeling is always an important part of what we teach. But explicitly allowing and even encouraging adults to find their own authentic voices as part of a full-school holistic model? At that point, we are truly making our mission statement a way of life rather than just a lofty ideal we may or may not even be able to remember if asked.

Filed Under: Teaching, gender, Independent Schools, CTQ, Nancy Flanigan, standard curriculum, On Education, Bill Ivey, John Holland, diversity, Feminism, Malcom X, Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Uniquely Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Jose Vilson, Education