For of those of you who may not have heard, Prince Ea sued the American school system last year and got 7.5 million views in settlement.
Now that school has started up again (at least where I live) I figured might as well get into the school spirit by sharing this amazing take on the American school system in all its glory. Now, I’m not saying I agree with everything he says in this video, but I agree with everything he says in this video. Watch it here, then read my take on it.
*Disclaimer: I actually love school. The school system… the jury’s still out. (Ha! I made a joke.)
The Albert Einstein quote opening
I love this quote, but I sometimes think it’s overused in these types of discussions and that it can be overgeneralized. Like, I understand where you’re coming from, there are different types of intelligences, but I also believe that everyone should be at a general base level in every facet of education (including arts, which sadly a lot of schools don’t agree with) before you can even begin separating the fish from the monkeys. (If you get what I mean.)
His opening statement
“Killing creativity, individuality, and being intellectually abusive”
Honestly, he couldn’t have said it better. The way the current school system is set up, in its rigidity, it’s hard to properly foster any sense of self beyond what the limited extracurriculars offer, and even then, there is so much pressure to fit into the box as a student. We ignore those who want to go out the box, who want to color outside of the lines, always stuck on the same measure of success in school, intelligence and grades and scores.
The classroom not having changed: I saw it coming, but it still surprised me. Now, I know, a “system” can’t really be compared to an object, but still. It illustrates an amazing point that nothing has changed. Obviously, our population has changed, the makeup of our students has changed, but our school system has not followed. Despite so much research (at least I do think there’s a lot of research, but I didn’t actually look up any of the literature) calling out the obsolete facets of schools, it hasn’t changed. And I feel like part of the reason for that is people are saying why fix something that’s not broke? But those people are the ones that don’t realize that even if the majority of students are succeeding (or being forced to succeed), it’s at the price of their creativity and freedom.
I also love his point on how the school day is 8 hours. This is a little random, but I don’t see the point in a school day being anywhere near that long. Every single student will tell you that half of the day is wasted anyway and that no work is done, but the system is built for quantity over quality; they think the more school hours, the better students. That’s why when there was speculation of increasing the number of required school days from 180 to 200, there was such a large backlash. You have to recognize that just forcing students to be in the classroom for longer is not going to make your teachers or your curriculum better.
I also love his point on how “the world has progressed”. The first thing that comes to mind when he says that is the fact that so many successful people were Harvard/Stanford/whatever other top school drop outs. Of course, that isn’t the same thing as a high school dropout (they still had to get into those top schools), but it shows how much more valuable an idea can be. Creativity runs the world now - everything successful was once just a good idea.
“Cookie cutter kids.” It’s a little harder for me to identify with this one, cause generally everyone I hang out around is of the same type of intelligence, because I go to a school that is geared toward fostering that type of intelligence. But this is another reason I like my school. Its curriculum is designed for those that have an aptitude for science/medicine, and don’t want to deal with the stress of having to take all these random history classes or whatever. That’s why I like my school district in general, and technical/vocational/magnet schools in general. They cater to a specific group of kids that have a specific skill set and allow them to separate from the standard student profile.
“Educational malpractice” - love that lineeeee.
“Each kid taught the same way” - yes, I agree with this, but I also think we’re moving in the right direction with just what we’ve done so far. The concept of learning types has really taken off recently, where teachers are actually tailoring their curriculum to fit visual vs. auditory vs. kinesthetic learners. But it can always go further. Whenever I talk about this, I always use my Canada example. The first day of fifth grade in Canada, we took this multiple intelligence test, and this was to find the level of our strengths in different areas, from logical/mathematical to verbal to interpersonal to naturalistic. It was so hyped by the teachers, everyone got into it, and we spent a good week just exploring the different intelligences. Everyone felt smart. There’s a caveat though, it turns into sort of an “everyone gets a participation trophy” thing almost, and competition still needs to be present to push students, but within the intelligence groups.
“Teachers are underpaid.” Oh my god yes. Teachers deserve so much more. So much more everything, more than just pay and appreciation. I literally would be nothing without my teachers. I don’t want to see my teachers take on a second or third job just to pay the bills when they already do so much for all of their students. It’s terrible. It should be like Finland (I think it’s Finland) where teachers are paid as much as lawyers and doctors, because their jobs matter just as much. I rarely tell people this, but I would love to teach, as a career. In fact, I still want to teach, but after I’m financially stable and possibly retired from my old job. Because it’s not as highly valued as a position, it also doesn’t usually attract the higher quality applicants. Those are the people that become doctors and lawyers because we think their services will be wasted educating the NEXT GENERATION OF THE WORLD. Sorry, I feel very strongly about this.
“Too crude to be used and should be abandoned” - wow this was really a well-articulated point. I’m split on this subject. Yes, I understand testing should not be the end all be all. But I don’t think it is these days. There are a lot of other markers of success out there. I do believe in the value of standardized testing. I feel like they offer a good, objective way of looking at the entire population of students and collectively measuring a skill. Sometimes the tests are not good at measuring the skills though, they focus too much on knowledge and not enough on application and problem solving, which are more aptitude based metrics. But without them, how else could we set that sort of baseline for improvement? I dunno. I’m open to suggestions if anyone has any.
“Common core” - so, I’m a little late to the game for this one to make that much of a difference for me - I was practically done with school by the time the Common Core was truly implemented in New Jersey. But based on the way I’ve heard teachers complaining about it, it’s too restrictive. A common core is okay, as long as it doesn’t teach your class for you. It should be customizable, based on your students, based on their strengths, and I just think most common core curriculums don’t support that kind of growth.
“Homework is non-existent.” This needs to be a thing. Desperately. We waste so much so much so much time on homework. After 8 hours of exhausting school, we do 4 hours of homework. That’s literally half a day! When are we supposed to sleep? Or eat? Forget about actually doing activities you’re interested in. And I guarantee you, if we removed more than half of the homework we are given, nothing would change. We would have the same grades, same test scores, same metrics. It’s just a way for the school system to feel better about itself for not leaving us with no work. Bless the teachers that don’t give us homework, or don’t give us busy work, you rock.
I just love this video. He articulates it so well. It’s clear that we need a change, we need some sort of reform, some movement in the right direction. And hopefully, this video will not be forgotten, and more like it will continue to make waves and raise questions and push us to action.
And as always, thanks for reading!