Tag Archives: john mayer

Your Lyrics Will Be Graded

I’m not a stranger to song/singer analysis.  You’ll recall I had a particularly scathing post about John Mayer a while back, and my friend, Liz, analyzed the nuances (or lack thereof) of Taylor Swift’s character.

As some people know, I am currently studying to become a high school English teacher in Texas.  This involves a lot of repetitive reading about how we should probably focus more on engaging students in school, and less on lecturing at them.  Turns out they learn more if they’re emotionally invested.  Who knew?

Anyway, as a fun activity, I decided to grade a couple songs as if they were student essays.  Starting with Katy Perry’s “Firework.”  Click to enlarge!

Firework001

I didn’t bother doing the rest of the song because it’s just “Boom boom boom, even brighter than the moon, moon, moon” repeated a bunch of times.

So the thing is that – while that was fun – I haven’t graded any other lyrics.  I was going to do Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” because no one who can easily shake off negative comments goes on to write an entire song about all the “mean” things that are said about them for the world to hear (Irony!).  But that seemed like low-hanging fruit.  Ol’ Tay-Tay’s already suffered our wrath, as you saw above.

This activity left the subject of education knocking around in my brain.  It feels important to get a few things written down, even if they’re obvious.  At the end, as a thank you for reading my wall of text, I have presented you with a drawing of an Ice Chinchilla, which was commissioned by my friend, Liz.

  1. If the goal of schooling is to increase student knowledge and understanding, then the current model is waaaaay off base.  A fifteen-year-old can memorize all the significant dates related to the American Revolution.  S/he can regurgitate facts onto a test and get a good grade, but that does not mean that s/he understands this conflict.  The student likely has no feelings about the American Revolution one way or the other.  Because s/he has learned that the goal of school is to get A’s, not to understand the content.  Along those lines…
  2. Our methods of assessing students are crap.  We live in a country where C is average, but only A’s mean anything.  That means we are pressuring our students to jump through as many hoops as necessary to get top letter marks.  As I said in point 1, this rarely requires genuine understanding.  Just look at the term “Standardized Test.”  It is literally a test that measures students’ abilities to fit into a mold.  At the beginning of the year, all students start with an A in their classes.  The best thing that can happen for them is for their grade to remain exactly the same.  Most likely what will happen is their grade will drop.  This is expected to motivate them.  All I see is a practice in futility, neatly packaged with buzzwords.  “If you don’t do well here, you won’t get into a good college.”  How about this?  How about every student starts with a zero.  Not an F, mind.  A zero.  As they do assignments, they get points.  At the end of the year, the number of points they have can be translated into a letter grade.  It’s not a perfect system, but you’ll notice with this design, the only direction students can go is up.  Instead of losing, they’ll be working to gain.  Every day, every semester, every class.
  3. It turns out that every person learns in a different way.  This means that a significant portion of “Special Ed” students might not need drugs or a psychological diagnosis.  Maybe all they need is someone to approach teaching in a different way.  It’s hard to cater your teaching methods to suit the needs of a fifty-student class, but we can start by abandoning the “Sit still, shut up, and listen” model.  From where I’m sitting, “Special Ed” is a lovely euphemism for “We’ve given up on you.”  That probably does wonders for kids’ self-esteem.
  4. You’ve heard this all before.  Studies that prove kids aren’t learning in school have been coming out for decades.  Kids aren’t learning.  Kids aren’t motivated.  Kids aren’t supposed to be put through test after standardized test.  It’s common knowledge at this point.  As far as I can tell, we as a country have gone, “Oh, look.  Schools are failing our children.  What a shame,” and then moved back to reading the morning paper or whatever.  Just shrug and move on, America.  Your education system is a mess.  Oh, well!  It happens.  Right?  No!  No, damn it!  I have read paper after paper from people saying we’re in the middle of a “paradigm shift” and “we need school reinvention, not school reform.”  (See writing by Ornstein and Hunkins for more details about school reinvention)  By “paradigm shift” do they mean that about 0.5% of the schools in this country have made changes to the way education is accomplished?  That’s not a shift.  That’s not even a blip on the radar.  So why aren’t we seeing real change?  Well, for one, politicians love using education to boost their numbers.  They throw out buzz words, cite the studies that I’ve been reading for my classes, and promise change.  Then they introduce new standardized tests or cut more music programs.  Meanwhile teachers are left floundering in a system that forces them to dish out education like it’s a punishment.
  5. No more complacence.  Educators need to band together.  Families need to support them.  We need a separation of school and state in a lot of ways, because educational policies are being instated by people who have never stood in a classroom full of bored sixth graders.  As an individual, all I can do is try to beat the system one classroom at a time.  And write ineffectual blog posts about it.  Hopefully one day I’ll be able to do more.  If enough individuals decide to make real changes, maybe it’ll have a ripple effect.

I don’t know.

Here’s a chinchilla.

Ice Chinchilla

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Filed under education, Humor, Language, Music, Politics, reading, writing

Lyrics Analysis

I don’t like John Mayer.  He seems like kind of a douche, and his songs make my ears cry.  If you like John Mayer, and these words offend you, please stop reading.  I don’t mean to offend anyone by having opinions that are different from theirs, just as I don’t mean to empower anyone by having opinions similar to theirs.

Anyway, there is this one song of his that I can’t get over.  Apparently it’s really old, but I’ve only recently started hearing it, so I guess I’ve been out of the John Mayer loop.  I would have happily stayed out of the John Mayer loop, but apparently fate didn’t think I deserved that.

This song is called “Daughters.”  After some discussion with my friend, Micah, I discovered that this song was supposed to have a message somewhere along the lines of “Don’t abuse your children.”  I can see why I missed this message, as I only ever managed to catch the chorus, but even with its good intentions, I feel sexism taints it.

Take, for example, the lyrics of the chorus:

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

First of all, I would like to point out that I have no issue with telling people not to abuse their kids.  That’s great.  People shouldn’t abuse their kids.  That being said…”Girls become lovers who turn into mothers”?  Does anyone else see anything wrong with that?  Here, I’ll break it down:

1. The reason you should be good to your daughters is because “girls become lovers.”  Specifically girls.  (We’ll get to what he says about boys in a moment.)

2. And then they “turn into mothers.”  Every last one of them.  I don’t know if I’ve expressed my distaste for blanket statements before, but I’m going to say it again: Stop with your blanket statements!  Not every girl wants to be a mother.  Or a lover for that matter.  Some accidentally become mothers, sure, but there are still those women out there who do not have any interest in either becoming a lover or becoming a mother.  Or they like the first bit but not the second bit.

3. A life of abuse will not automatically make a girl a bad lover or mother, though it always helps to have a loving upbringing.  It is still possible for a girl to be strong and persevere despite a tough childhood though.  But more on that later.

Now we get to the verse about boys.  Here is John Mayer’s reasoning for why you should only be good to your daughters, and not your sons:

Boys, you can break
You’ll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A woman’s good, good heart

4. Apparently boys can both “break” and “be strong.”  But the funny thing is that this language is exclusive.  It only refers to boys.  Boys you can break.  Boys will be strong.  And boys soldier on.  Not girls though.  Girls won’t be strong.  They won’t soldier on.  Which is why they are there to offer “the warmth” of their “good, good heart[s]” to boys.  Because they are delicate flowers who need protecting and are only there to nurture their protectors.

5. Apparently it’s okay to beat up on boys because that’ll just toughen them up.  “You’ll find out how much they can take,” and then maybe they’ll learn how to “be strong” and fight back.  In fact, a little punching might be good for them.  Toughen them up.  Teach them to be strong.  That’s the message I get.  So while abuse will break them, it might also…make them?

6. Not all girls are pretty, pretty princesses.  I like, repeat, I LIKE, the message of “Don’t abuse or neglect your kids.”  But I would have liked that message to apply to ALL kids, and not just the dainty female ones.

I Hate Pink

7. Fuck you, John Mayer.

8. Comic Writer's Block Strip 12

9. Word of the Day: Misogynist (n) – a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.

10. P.S. I had a conversation with Liz about this song while writing this post, and after I said, “It’d be nice if this song had the message, ‘Don’t abuse any of your kids,” she responded with, “And that they’ll all respond in their own unique ways, regardless of their genitals.”  So if you need a TL;DR version of this post, I feel that conversation sums it up.  You’re welcome.

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