In 1979 the iconic band, Pink Floyd, released the album and subsequent movie (1982) The Wall. Hailed by critics as one of the best concept albums ever released; The Wall used graphic lyrics and imagery to tell the story of the fictional character, Pink Floyd, a troubled man struggling to find his way in post-WWII Britain. Traumatized by the after effects of the war, an ineffective educational system, an authoritarian government, and the superficiality of pop culture consumerism, Pink builds a metaphorical mental wall closing himself off from reality (Urick, 2010).
Semi-autobiographical, the educational system, described in The Wall, is a dramatization of band member, Roger Water’s, own educational experiences. Penning the lyrics,
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! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!
All and all you’re just another brick in the wall.
(Gilmour & Waters, 1979, track 5)
Waters and bandmate, David Gilmour, expressed their concern that rote standardized learning, likened to thought control, produced compliant drones who could be easily manipulated by the government (Urick, 2010).
Although written 35 years ago, the messages found in The Wall seem to resonate prophetic today given the current state of the U.S. educational system, rife with top down unfunded mandates, pushes for standardized curriculum/testing, and growing educational product consumerism. This paper presentation will use the lyrics and imagery from The Wall as a lens to examine how Race to the Top is impacting the delivery of education in our public schools. Special attention will be given to the role that the standardization movement has played in the demise of creativity in today’s classrooms. The presentation will culminate with examples of teachers who despite the governmental reform agenda, have resisted the adoption of rote drill and kill practices and instead found creative methods to successfully meet the individual needs of their students.
Gilmour, D. & Waters, R. (1979). Another brick in the wall part two. On The wall [CD] . New York, United States: Columbia Records.
Urick, B. (2010). Pink Floyd’s The Wall a complete analysis. Retrieved from http://www.thewallanalysis.com/.