[As many folks know, Jose Vilson is a dear friend of mine. He is also, in my opinion, one of the biggest thinkers we've got in the world of education today. I've been trying to write a traditional review of Jose's new book, This is Not a Test, for several days now. I can't. If you need to read a review, go read Audrey Watters' review of it. It's better than anything I could possibly write. What this is, simply, is an exhortation.]
There are books I read where I simply love the writer’s voice so much that I cannot put the book down.
There are books I read where I just find the message so compelling that I cannot put the book down.
Then there are those rare books that I read where the author’s voice is so powerful and the message so compelling that not only can I not put it down, but I find myself “cheer-reading,” with vigorous head-nodding and calls out to my wife, so I can read her passages that are particularly moving to me. Those are the kinds of books where I am inevitably sad when I come to the end, because I simply want to keep reading and learning more.
Jose Vilson’s This is Not a Test is one such book.
If you are familiar with Jose’s blog, you might already know that he is one of the most powerful writers on education that’s out there on the internet already. And if you only know Jose from his blog, that’d be enough to go buy the book. (And if you aren’t reading Jose’s blog, why aren’t you?)
But as good as his blog is, the book is better.
The book is a powerful commentary on the world of school today, woven through his narrative as both a student and a teacher. Jose uses the lens of his own experiences to speak to some of the most important issues facing our schools, from issues of race and class in our schools, to the need to understand our students as far more than a test score to answering the fundamental question of “Why Teach?” This is Not a Test is a deliberate creation of both memoir and social commentary that is woven together in such a compelling way as to remind every reader of the power of story to educate us of what we can and should value in our schools and in our society.
If you teach, if you have kids in school, if you live in the world of education policy, or if you simply care about the present and future of education in this country, you must read this book.
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, the book is on sale (30%) through Haymarket Press. Simply buy it through the publisher and enter the code NOTATEST at checkout.
Go. Now. Buy the book. Read it. Tell others to read it too. Because, indeed, this is not a test.