I was recently scrolling across my Instagram feed, just like any other typical teenage girl, and I noticed my feed was filled with the same post: a short clip of a speaker walking in a school addressing the flaws of the school system. The captions that followed the video were the same: "Watch this video. The points are very valid and I'm wondering why something hasn't been done before about this."
As a genuinely curious person, I watched the video then read the hundreds of thousands of comments underneath, unveiling a whole other debate about the current education system. Thousands of comments were talking about how the person in the post was a scam and he always made videos like these, while others talked about how his points were true and how they personally never liked school. Throughout the comments, many people were either defensive or agreeing with what Prince EA had to say.
Who started this debate?
Let's dig a little into the person who made this controversial video: Prince EA. As a college graduate of 2011, he then went into the hip hop culture, fascinated by how artists took their feelings about ongoing situations into their songs, and he too wanted to do the same thing. He left shortly after though because he wasn't attracted to the egotistic culture of hip hop. He then realized he could speak out about other topics going around, such as drugs and school, and decided to become an American poet.
When he's not busy making videos, he speaks at conferences and a variety of schools to push students towards their passions and how self - development is important. In 2016, he made his first viral hit, "I Just Sued the School System!!!", and it quickly gained millions of views. Prince targeted the school system and criticized them for going the same way they did 150 years ago, which means the system is outdated and doesn't adapt to the student's need. He points out about Finland's school system as being an "ideal" system, which garners to the student's needs due to it's shorter school days and a system built around collaboration, not competition.
From Prince EA's First Viral Hit, "I JUST SUED THE SCHOOL SYSTEM!!!":
"Tell me school, are you proud of the things you’ve done? Turning millions of people into robots, do you find that fun? Do you realize how many kids relate to that fish, swimming upstream in class, never finding their gifts, thinking they are stupid, believing they are useless? Well, the time has come, no more excuses, I call school to the stand and accuse them of killing creativity, individuality, and being intellectually abusive. It’s an ancient institution that has outlived its usage. So, your honour, this concludes my opening statement, and if I may present the evidence of my case, I will prove it."
In this hit video, he mentions this statement that is especially deep due to its directness and the almost humorous way it's presented. The fish part of the statement refers to the quote he said at the beginning of the video:
"Albert Einstein once said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will lead its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, today on trial we have modern day schooling. Glad you could come. Not only does he make fish climb trees, but also makes them climb down, and do a 10-mile run."
(Note: It has not been proven that Albert Einstein has actually ever said this, but that doesn't take away the wisdom reflected in these words.)
Prince EA concludes that schools are ancient institutions (which is true), that have outlived their usage (which is a statement that he will now try to prove to the "judge"). This video is mainly talking about the "fish" of the schools or the underdogs who have trouble learning at the pace of regular students, not directed to all students in a school. He continues to talk about how countries who have shorter days, non-existent homework, and focus more on creativity score better on standardized testing and international testing, even though Prince criticized standardized testing in his later video, "BEFORE YOU GO TO SCHOOL, WATCH THIS".
In his controversial youtube video entitled, "BEFORE YOU GO TO SCHOOL, WATCH THIS || WHAT IS SCHOOL FOR?" he speaks about the degrading education system, and it has garnered millions of views and shares on social media platforms. The video is based at a local high school, and Prince is shown walking throughout the school and speaking about how his personal experience of schooling has made him think what he thinks. Clips are shown of students struggling at school, reading hundreds of book pages and afraid of raising their hands in fear of being wrong. As the video progresses, Prince strongly conveys the message with students walking out of classrooms and walking with him, showing that the kids have realized that something must be done to change the degrading education system.
Many viewers agree with his points, arguing that school should teach life lessons and shouldn't spend so much time teaching things so quickly forgotten.
Keep in mind, Prince isn't saying that school is useless. He is pointing out the flaws of the education system, and that it needs a change.
Why School is Important:
- Without an education system, you wouldn't learn basic grammar, math, and other facts you can benefit from.
- Learning history allows you to appreciate culture and prevents the world from repeating past mistakes. Making fully informed voting decisions is very important.
- The education system teaches you what's wrong and what's right and helps with your people and social skills.
- Depending on what type of school you go to, school allows you to be around others your age and make friends.
- Going to school and doing well in it will promise you a good future in college and the developing world around us. No one will find a cure for cancer by not going to school, and no one will invent the greatest smartphone ever by NOT going to school.
- Learning a variety of topics in school prepares you to know what you want to major in. You may not major in history, but how would you have known that back in middle and mid-high school? Exposure to different subjects allows you to know what you're good at and what you're not.
- It teaches you discipline and responsibility, as well as time management. Although it may have been through the hard way, you still learn how to balance school, friends, and family. You learn how to act around others, and you learn when to do your homework and how hard you need to work.
Why the Current Education System is Flawed:
- The education system is too streamlined and is limited in individuality and creativity.
- Depression and anxiety result from pressure caused by teachers and family members, which doesn't help the student's education.
- Often, the information we memorize is forgotten and can easily be found on Google or other search engines.
- Bullying is a major problem in the school system.
- School isn't creative enough; there is often only one way of doing things for assignments.
Despite what society tells us, your future isn't contingent on how well you do on your SAT's and ACT. That doesn't change however how important it is (for most people) to finish high school (and go to college if possible) so that you don't limit the opportunities you have as an adult.
The Big Takeaway:
While school is important, it's not perfect. We need to start having real conversations about the flaws in the education system so that we, as a society, can start making education better. If there's some passion of yours that you want to pursue and school isn't helping you do it, make sure that you prioritize that passion too; your passion is a source of learning and growth, just as much as school is. Research topics on your own that interest you; read books you find interesting but are not assigned for school; work on art projects; write a song. As long as you are not closing doors for your future self by doing poorly in school, it is important to realize that you need to take time to nurture your creative and curious sides as well.