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Published on Aug 13, 2012
According to Henry Rollins, education is the great leveler of the playing field, which is why the punk rocker says that elites are fearful of it. What would happen if our educational system did succeed in leveling the playing field? According to Rollins, for one thing, the prison population will plummet. The temptation to rob a liquor store, for instance, would be greatly reduced, Rollins says, if our schools succeeded in teaching all students aptitude -- the ability to learn. That means "someone can open any book and have the ability to obtain knowledge." What other benefits would reinventing education have? Rollins says that democracy would be a much more vigorous thing. "We would expect much more of our politicians," he says, "and Thomas Jefferson would finally stop rolling in his grave."
Transcript-- Henry Rollins: The way out is education. It always has been, always will be. It is the great leveler of the playing field. That is why some politicians and some people who are of a certain bent not only fear education, they hate education because they realize that minorities, whole demographics will become educated and when they do that the prison population will plummet, equality and the burden of equality. These people will have a slightly narrowed pie slice of wealth. They'll have to give up a little. They will still be filthy rich, but they won't be super-duper, filthy, obscene rich.
And people of different skin tones will be making better choices with their life, that is to say minorities who fill American prisons, who do big amounts of time, who end up having shortened life spans - and some of this is death by misadventure, bad choices, but a lot of it is a lack of education. And so that's why people who worked in the government for education like my mother who worked for health education and welfare and national education and planning until, I think, two different Republican administrations came and wiped them both out, education, no, no, level playing field, eek, so that is the way out.
So what do you teach in school? You teach aptitude. You teach the ability to learn. You teach discipline, focus, application and how to read and basic mathematics, so someone can open up any book and have the interest, the focus and the discipline to pursue the knowledge contained therein and that way they can become a plumber or an astronaut because they have the mindset that says I can achieve, I want to achieve and I'm going to sit here with this damn book for eight hours and I'm going to get it because I learned the aptitude, I learned how to sit down, shut up and apply myself and with that the world of knowledge fairly throws itself into your lap and so that is the great dismal failure of "No Child Left Behind". When you teach to a test you're basically just trying to get reelected. You're looking good at tax time. You're looking good when they come through the building and evaluate you, well they learned the test. They learned the test, but they didn't learn how to learn and so that's what I find as a breakdown in teaching systems. They don't teach you how to think because as soon as you get that under your cap books are books, information is information. You just find what pleases you. But if you have the ability to learn you're going to make better choices and you'll have an intellectual confidence that will allow you to really maximize your potential. It's where the idea of robbing a liquor store or putting a gun up to someone's head. You would have literally better things to do with your time and that's where you see real progress. That is the America you could have and you could have it in this century, but it would be an America that is a much more level playing field. Democracy would be a far more vigorous thing. We would be expecting much more of our politicians. Congress would not have these amazing vacations they have. They would be smarting from getting caned by the people because if they didn't do the people's will like they are supposed to they would be out of office in two to four or six years. I like that and Jefferson could stop finally turning in his grave.
Directed / Produced by Elizabeth Rodd and Jonathan Fowler