Another Brick in the Wall
The metaphorical “wall” Pink Floyd sang about in the late seventies to worldwide acclaim, in their hit song entitled “Another Brick in the Wall,” lamented the abandonment and isolation many students suffer just by being in school.
“We don’t need no education…no thought control…
no dark sarcasm…Teachers! Leave those kids alone…
all in all, they’re just another brick in the wall.”
Pink Floyd, “Another Brick in the Wall,” 1979
Abandonment and isolation are among the root causes of mental illness in many children. Together they create a set of traumatic experiences that lead to a whole host of psychiatric disorders, including Reactive Attachment, Post Traumatic Syndrome, Agoraphobia, and chronic anxiety and depression. Some would make a good argument to include even Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, and Border Line.
Sadly, these disorders, for many reasons, typically lead to responses by more children than we want to admit that only further exacerbates the problem, like drug and alcohol abuse, even more extreme withdrawl, self-harm, and even suicide.
So, how do schools lay the groundwork for students to feel traumatically abandoned or isolated? Let’s look at Pink Floyd’s “wall” for some answers.
In short, most schools are all about teaching students what to think, not how to think for themselves. It would be too unruly for everyone to be going off on their own thinking tangents. This is a total disregard for the value of “self,” a slam dunk form of abandonment, where the child’s individuality is not just set adrift, but buried six-feet under.
The hidden curriculum of school is to show you your place in the world, not how to make your own space in it. Students are given their own personal walls to live within, to be set apart, and are often marginalized or excluded in the process. Few students truly “measure up,” as tyrannical teachers go to great lengths to make sure not everyone “makes it.” Isolative? You bet…of the worst order.
Bricks in the Wall
Tormented, guilt-ridden, anxious, depressed, lost, alone and often self-medicated, students have little choice but to take their place in the “wall” of life. They are the “bricks” in the wall, made by the brickworks we ironically call school. Need I say more?
Tear Down That Wall
The call for help of the song, maybe even of the musicians of Pink Floyd themselves, is ultimately a call to not tear the wall down for the students, but to actually show them how to do it for themselves. What a concept. Give a man a fish, and he eats today. Teach a man to fish, and he feeds himself for a lifetime.