Friday, August 5, 2016

Text of My Speech in Little Rock, AR (Decenter Yourself) | The Jose Vilson

Text of My Speech in Little Rock, AR (Decenter Yourself) | The Jose Vilson:

Text of My Speech in Little Rock, AR (Decenter Yourself)

Jose Vilson, Noble Talks, Clinton School for Public Service, Little Rock, AR

I gave this speech at the Clinton School for Public Service in Little Rock, AR as part of Noble Impact’s NobleTalks series. For those who read the last post, I deviated from this text somewhat after my visit to Central High School. Special shouts to Chris Thinnes for hearing me say this aloud in the wee hours of the night. 
Good evening, class.
Thank you for having me here in Little Rock, AR.
We are living in the best of times and worst of times, but the one place that always gives me hope is my classroom.
My classroom has four turquoise-painted walls, long, tall windows, and a bookshelf that’s about seven feet high.
In the back, I keep a poster of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, centered so every time I see myself getting tired, I can look at him with outstretched hands greeting the thousands of onlookers who are listening to him give the greatest speech of the 20th century. In the speech, he spoke truth to power by speaking to the aspirations of his people, not just his own.
Just to the left of that poster is a huge bulletin board dedicated to our lives mattering, images and quotes from the current street movement, one which I’m still learning from.
In my classroom, a typical student might ask, “Mr. Vilson, what’s the answer?” I tell them, “I don’t know.” They’re visibly frustrated, and they ask again, “What’s the answer?” I tell them, “I don’t know.” They get mad some more, smoke coming out of their little ears, and they ask, “Yo, Vilson, what’s the answer to this?” To which I reply, “I don’t know.”
They eventually learn to ask the right questions, and I say, “Well, have you thought about this?” I then proceed to pepper them with questions they hadn’t considered and reflect back the answers they told me.
After a few minutes, they say, “I think I got it.” And I say, “OK, good. Bye.” and walk to the next table.
In a small, yet simple act of deflection, I managed to decenter myself and put the onus of learning on the students so they can take ownership. I ask them to imagine “What if I wasn’t there? Would you Text of My Speech in Little Rock, AR (Decenter Yourself) | The Jose Vilson:

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