A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with a friend of mine, and he told me he’d met someone who loved Pink Floyd’s The Wall, but who disapproved of “Another Brick In The Wall – Part 2” because he was teacher.
As a future teacher myself, I had to give that some thought : what is wrong with one of the most famous Pink Floyd songs ever ? Should I, too, disapprove of it ?
The whole album and both films they made out of it are “ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC !”, and that particular song is ever so catchy. I love the rhythm, the music, the lyrics, and I love it when the kids are singing. I think it’s a cool song and I understand why it was so successful back in 1979.
But it is a controversial song, and some of you might know that it was banned in South Africa because it was turned against the white authorities by the black population ; it had become somewhat of a political weapon.
Why ? Because of its message :
“We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”
At first sight, it sounds like the singer is rejecting school and education all in all.
But really, he is rejecting a certain type of education : one where students have no freedom of thought nor freedom of speech, where the contents they are taught is limited and distorted to suit the government’s liking, the church’s liking, or the business world’s liking. Teachers who conform to that and brainwash their students are despisable and hateable, because they rid them of their freedom and they prevent them from evolving and growing healthily and happily. Their students do not have the ability to think critically. They do not have the ability to become the best people they could be.
But this song also promotes a better kind of education : it does not aim to get kids to drop out of school because school is bad for them, but to reject any harmful types of education, and to search for a better, more fulfilling teaching, which encourages them to think freely and critically. It also promotes basic education for all – what some call the “three Rs”, reading, writing and arythmetic -, by using the double negative “we don’t need no education”, as in “we do need education”, and everyone in the world should have access to quality teaching.
In french, the world for student is “élève”, and the verb “élever” means to raise (to bring up). A student is a human being people such as parents and teachers should help grow and thrive. As a future teacher, I do not disapprove of this song – I can understand why one would be wary of it, in case it were misunderstood -, on the contrary, I believe people should spread the word : we don’t need no education, and we certainly don’t need thought control.
Thank you for reading !