Look at the image.
- What do the hammers look like?
- What does “you’re just another brick in the wall” mean in your opinion?
- What do you think the hammers stand for? And the wall?
- Why do you think the artist that created this image decided to draw two hammers inside a TV set?
- What do the teachers look like?
- What attitude do they reveal about school?
- How does the male teacher interact with his students?
- What does he do to the young boy? Why?
- How does the young boy react?
- What subject is he teaching? How is he teaching it?
- What is the link between the henpecked husband at home and the ruthless vicious teacher at school?
- Why do you think the kids are marching in a line and then they are wearing a mask?
- The song, written by the bassist of the Pink Floyd in 1979, is a protest song against rigid schooling in general and boarding schools in the UK in particular. Do you think this song is still contemporary? Why (not)? Do you happen to know of any other songs that make a statement about the educational system? If you were asked to write a song to raise your concerns, objections or praises of the Italian educational system, what would it be like? Think of the tune, write down some ideas. You are not expected to write the whole lyrics.
- Write a short essay in which you point out how far or similar your school is to the one depicted in the video and sung in the Pink Floyd’s famous hit; the things that you would change in your school; the way you interact with your teachers and possible ways to improve your relationship with them.
These questions may help you focus better on the topic of the essay:
What is education to you? What is your ideal school? How would you improve your school? What do/don’t you like about your school? Why? (remember that trying to look at things through different perspectives will help you acquire a better undertanding of things. This means that you should look at the things that work and do not work in your school through the eyes of the students, the teachers, the janitors, the headmaster) If you were a teacher how would you teach? If you were the headmaster of your school what would you do to create a better school?
Teachers by Michael Rosen
“Teachers” they want it all ways
You’re jumping up and down on a chair
and they grab hold of you and say,
“Would you do that sort of thing in your own
So you say “No”
and they say
“Well, don’t do it here then”
But if you say “Yes, I do it at home”
“Well we don’t want that sort of thing
going on here
thank you very much”
“Teachers, they get you all ways”
Read the poem again and answer the following questions:
- How many voices do you ear in this poem?
- Through whose eyes do we see the situation?
- What situation is described in the poem?
- What does “teachers, they get you all ways” mean?
- What is the point raised in this poem?
- Does this poem depict a kind of teacher you have been exposed to or does the described teacher belong to the past? Support your answer.
- What are the typical “requests”, “reprimands”, “complaints”, teachers make in class?
- Who do you think is right? The student or the teacher?
- What do you think of your and your classmates’ behavior in class? What is it like? How do your teachers respond to it? Does it change from subject to subject? In what way do your teachers “correct” your behavior when at school or in class?
Poem written by a teacher of English based in the United States.
“A Poem About Education” by Frank Williams
Education is not the filling of a pail,
But rather a fire that grows beyond control,
With flames that burn and reach high,
And contribute the pieces of your whole.
The more you attempt to learn,
The more you will come to know,
The more you will get better,
And the more you shall grow.
So don’t ever give up,
And don’t ever give in,
For you will have to fail,
Before you can win.
Unless perfection is something real,
Unless you and enlightenment meet,
Unless there is nothing more to know,
Learning is never truly complete.
Live a life of learning,
Be a student through and through,
Let your flames burn bright,
And aspire to maximize your E-D-U!
Reread the poem and answer the questions:
- What is education to the speaking “I”?
- What are the tips that the speaker gives?
- Why should a teacher be a “student through and through”?
1. Look at the cartoons and speak about them. Discuss what point they want to make.
2. As a student do you agree with the problem they raise?
Watch the following slam poem and try to jot down the following: who is addressing whom and why? Who is the speaking I? Where is he and with whom? Who is he responding to and why? What is the point he is making? Then rewatch the performance and try to think of the features of slam poetry. How does it differentiate from poetry written on a page?
A Teacher’s Slam Poem!
This is the cartoon version of the above slam poem!
These are the words of the poem:
What Teachers Make
by Taylor Mali
He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.
I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?
And I wish he hadn’t done that— asked me to be honest—
because, you see, I have this policy about honesty and ass-‐kicking:
if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A-‐ feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said today.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.
You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math
and hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you’ve got this,
then you follow this,
and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this.
Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?
What would a student’s Slam Poem be like?
Think who you want to address and why. What are you protesting about/objecting to? Remember to use some real dialogue in your slam poem, as you saw in Taylor Mali’s slam (the words in italics!). Then remember that you need to perform it before an audience. Think of your voice and think of your body movements too.
Watch the following video by an expert on education. Jot down the ideas and considerations that strike you and be prepared to use them to give a speech to the Ministry of Education in which you emphasise the weak aspects of the euducational system in Italy, the urgent measures that should be taken to better it.
What would you expect the Prime Minister of your country to say about education? If you were the Ministry of Education of Italy, what positive aspects would you highlight about our system? What the aspects to be improved? Listen to Barack Obama’s speech and see whether his ideas on education somehow match yours.
Has any of your classmates ever had a tirade (a long angry speech criticizing a teacher) in class? Watch the rant (complain loudly and angrily about something) of an American student in Texas. What is he complaning about? Who is he addressing? What happened to him? The person he attacked verbally? What do you think of this? Do you deem it proper or improper to complain about your teacher’s appraoch to teaching in this way? Why (not)? Now imagine a teacher you did not appreciate because of his/her lack of enthusiasm, or his/her laid-back attitude, or his/her detached relationship with students. What would your rant be like if you were given the chance to have one?
This is Andreea’s attempt at slam poetry. Her slam poem about education has been published in the comments. Enjoy it!