In this video, poet Prince Ea performs a lyrical indictment of the school system. He makes some powerful points, to be sure: schools should empower creativity, teachers should be honored and compensated, and more. Prince Ea also gets caught in some of the discursive nets slung out under recent education reform that tangle reason. He suggests that desks in rows is an indicator of school being behind the times, but doesn’t seem to realize that plenty of more “innovative” school models can force students into mindless learning. He also reinforces the validity of international comparisons of education systems, which place Finland in “first place,” when such comparisons are problematic for the precisely the same reason his fish-climbing-trees has merit. He also avoids some of the most vexing issues of the day, including private influence in public education, issues of racial and socioeconomic inequity, and testing. Still, it’s an engaging and thoughtful performance, one worth watching with teachers and children alike and discussing at length afterward. (Use this video of teens discussing the performance as a starter.)
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