Sunday, April 6, 2014

just another brick

Today, I learned something from a song. Well, maybe "learned" isn't quite right, but there was definitely an epiphany.

First, the song... "Another Brick in the Wall," by Pink Floyd, from their album The Wall. Here is a link to it on YouTube, if you need a refresher... The song is rather a protest about the institution of education, and several generations of school kids have picked it up as an anthem for those moments - or years - when they hate school, starting with my generation. I remember when this album came out, and it was the voice of a teenaged angst-filled, broken-hearted, almost adult period of time for me. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. It isn't a terrible album, but I don't get it out to listen to as a whole. Mostly because it is full of that broken-hearted, depressed, angst-y emotion that made it a perfect soundtrack for that part of my life, and I'm not there any more and don't want to be.

Still, songs from the album visit me on the radio, or where-ever. Today it was "Another Brick in the Wall." When I hear that song these days, I feel the voices of my students - almost 18 years of them now - singing it to me, protesting their "encarceration" in school, much as my friends and I belted it out, riding around in cars, as we prepared to graduate high school. Today, I realized for the first time, that I was, now, one of those "bricks" in the wall. I could have felt bad, taking it the way Pink Floyd meant, basically that a teacher was just another repressor. Instead, I got this image of someone standing at the wall so long that they basically become a part of the wall. They go from pounding on the wall to holding it up.

Interesting. I understand that the song protests the indoctrination of education, and as an educator, I recognize that - indeed - that is a necessary element of society. If you don't know how to be a part of society, you cannot function within it. The good or ill of the indoctrination has to do with its purpose, not its existance. Beyond that, though, lies the real value - and danger - of education. Without it, how do you think beyond that indoctrination? How do you think beyond what is known? It is like so many things. Once you know the rules, you know how to break them with intelligent purpose and intent. You know when to break those rules to achieve your purpose. You understand that it is not without risk or consequence, and you can decide whether the gain is worth the consequence.

So, Pink Floyd, I hear your anthem, and I see beyond it. Not only do we all need that education, we all need to become, some way or another, another brick in that wall.

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