Before class, ask students bring the following songs about school (or any combination of them) to class, both recorded on CD and the lyrics. (NOTE: Facilitators may allow students to bring their own choice of songs about schools, with consideration for lyrical content. Also, following many of these songs are linked to Youtube, and you can find all the lyrics on the internet.)
Appropriate Tone. The following songs have been chosen because they have appropriate lyrical content, including lyrics that are not violent and do not contain profanity.
- Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 by Pink Floyd
- Back to School Again by the Four Tops from Grease 2
- Grade 9 by Barenaked Ladies
- All Falls Down by Kanye West
- I Don’t Wanna Be Learned by The Ramones
- In My High School by Larsen Blaine
- The Headmaster Ritual by The Smiths
- We’re Going to be Friends by The White Stripes
- We’re Going to be Friends by Jack Johnson
- You Can’t Blame the Youth by Peter Tosh
- Be True to Your School by The Beach Boys
- Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamin C
Objectionable Tone. The following songs have been chosen because they have appropriate subject matter, and often represent “alternative perspectives”; however, they also have objectionable content, including lyrics that may be violent or profane.
- Working Class Hero by John Lennon
- They Schools by Dead Prez
- Terminal Preppie by Dead Milkmen
- Rock Star by Hole
Gather students in the room and listen to 3-4 songs. After each, have students spend a few moments writing their immediate responses to the song, without talking or sharing their insight with their peers. After the class has heard each song, have a group discussion about images from the songs. You might have students share their responses to the songs, or have them discuss the following questions:
- What is the purpose of school, according to these songs?
- Do these songs show the reality of schools, or the exceptions?
- Why would anyone object to these songs?
After this discussion, challenge students to write a creative response to the lyrics they have heard. They can write a poem, prose, or a even a song. Provide students with the opportunity to share their creativity with their peers, giving everyone equal space to share in their own ways.