‘We don’t need no education,’ why pop culture hates school

In 1979, Pink Floyd, a psychedelic rock band, released “Another Brick In The Wall,” where its chorus rang, “we don’t need no education//we don’t need no thought control.”

Later in 2014, Charli XCX, an English singer and songwriter released the song “Break the Rules,” that reached the 36th position in the Billboard Hot 100. The chorus sings, “I don’t want to go to school, I just want to break the rules.”

Afterward, in 2016, the movie Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life was released. As the title of the movie suggests, this film handles the matter of strict decorum of Middle school. Through portraying a couple of Middle School children breaking the extremely conservative and unreasonable school regulations, the movie identifies a problem in blindfolded obedience regarding restrictions. 

As proven by the past, there have been instances of Hollywood and the music industry creating content which voices criticism of the education system. Also, coincidently in response to this, I have been hearing little growls and complaints on the school, to be more specific, regarding the system, from many who belong to the student body. This has been going on even before the IB shift.

One may argue that this is because of the human tendency to desire or fantasize what we are restricted from. In this context, it means that students may feel incarcerated from being “free” since many of the contemporary school systems are built to maintain extreme order. Psychologically, this reaction is a result of an individual feeling alarmed because they feel that their freedom to perform certain tasks is “taken away,” making students feel threatened. With this in mind, students may feel like they are being prevented from attaining their desirable goals, thus potentially leading up to a negative attitude towards school.

Or, they might argue that the recent development of a negative view towards the education system is because the current model of education is a “century-old model.” This model has been prolonging since the 19th-century. To give a better historical context, schooling started because corporations wanted to teach children skills that can be used in factories to support the economy. This shows how in many aspects, the current paradigm is inefficient and seem bounding to the students.    

The 19th-century model that has been integrated into the social system is restricting students from exploring their potential. Furthermore, the monotony that constantly drags students and teachers, like a bog, is the greatest enemy.  According to 75% of the students in American high schools, the materials introduced in classrooms are “not interesting” which adds on to the list of why school is considered “useless.”

Nonetheless, is our psychological reason and the monotonous standard on fault in terms of making learning boring and dissuading students to feel enthusiastic?

As the Saphir-Wolf hypothesis of Linguistic Relativity suggests, if we hear a modulated language repeatedly, it may restrict or change the course of our thoughts to a certain extent. This indicates that the repeated language against the school system could have impacted our thoughts regarding the education system.

Adding on, David Dunning states in his article, “We Are All Confident Idiots,” that because of our bock headed brain, we tend to curve information in favor of our own argument. This means that when we hear statements on the negative aspects of schooling, and once an individual starts to believe it, their reality is shaped according to what they believe. And this is also where Linguistic Relativity plays a role in our consciousness.

On the other hand, it could be the attitude and the mindsets that were pre-fixed regarding the whole idea of school. 

As David Stendl-Rast, a Benedict Monk from New York said, “Well, think again – every moment is a new gift, over and over again, and if you miss the opportunity of this moment, another moment is given to us, and another moment.” Here, he tried to convey the message of attempting to find the good in every moment and occasionally pause to look around and appreciate the surroundings. In his interview with the host Guy Raz, he states that it is the way that we capture and take the moment that we are living in, which determines how happy or satisfied we can be. He adds that we can achieve happiness by not only looking for desired opportunities but also by identifying the given ones.

Considering all of these factors, perhaps we should think beyond what we hear, and learn how to identify what to appreciate. In an attempt to do so, perhaps we should take those songs and films more like a rhetorical rant, and take it as incoming information. This is because once an idea or an opinion such as “I don’t like schools” is taken beyond an informative state, it starts to shape how we see things.


Victoria Lee is a staff reporter of The Woodstocker

Edited by Nalin Mahajan


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