In 1979, rock band Pink Floyd came out with a song called “Another Brick in the Wall” which speaks out against rigid, traditional schooling. The lyrics go:
We don’t need no education.
We don’t need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom,
Teacher 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.
AMIDST the recent drama involving radio broadcaster Raffy Tulfo and the public school teacher he lambasted for allegedly humiliating a student, this song seems an appropriate background theme. I am not here to elaborate on that case, however. Many other people have made their own commentaries and I think enough has been said for one to go through, read, and make their own judgment.
What I want to focus on, is the system, the culture, of education that the song is protesting. The lyrics make the teachers to be the villains, but in reality, teachers are as much the victims of the system as the students. We have been programmed to think of schools as factories, as tools for shaping society, for providing human resource needs -- very much like “another brick in the wall” of humanity that we are building. And teachers are victims because they think their job is to produce bricks, not humans.
The math teacher thinks everybody needs to learn long division. The English teacher thinks everyone needs to properly differentiate between an adverb and an adjective. The Filipino teacher thinks everyone needs to read Noli Me Tangere and the History teacher is surprised if a teenager does not know who Andres Bonifacio was.
Think about that for a second, and notice your own reaction to it. Now let me ask, why would it be surprising for a teenager not to know who Andres Bonifacio was? Does Bonifacio matter in their daily life? Does it help them cross the road? Do they get money for knowing him? Why should it matter? If you still insist that it does, then let me ask you then, does it matter in your life that you know Andres Bonifacio? How does that knowledge impact your everyday life? Is it useful in your work? Does it give your life meaning?
Now, let this sink in. No one NEEDS to know who Andres Bonifacio was, nor long division, nor adverbs and adjectives, nor Noli Me Tangere. Am I saying these are unimportant? No. That is not my point.
But this is what I’m driving at. The system has fooled us into thinking that to be an “educated”person, an “educated” Filipino, we need to have all these little bits of knowledge within us. We need to be bricks with the right ingredients.
If we can satisfactorily spit out to the teacher what he/she wants to hear, we get that congratulatory handshake and that little piece of printed paper certifying that we are “educated.”
But is that what education really means?
More next week.
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