June 18, 2024

‘We don’t want no education’ – Chinese kids in lockdown channel Pink Floyd

In Another Brick in the Wall Pink Floyd penned the most famous protest song about institutionalised education. But its the lockdown children of Wuhan, in China, who get first prize for ‘actions and not words’. In his recent article on life in Wuhan, the Chinese province where the coronavirus was first detected, Wang Xiuying noted:

Schools are suspended until further notice…. Children were presumably glad to be off school – until, that is, an app called Ding Talk was introduced. Students are meant to sign in and join their class for online lessons; teachers use the app to set homework. Somehow the little brats worked out that if enough users gave the app a one-star review it would get booted off the App Store. Tens of thousands of reviews flooded in, and DingTalk’s rating plummeted overnight from 4.9 to 1.4. The app has had to beg for mercy on social media: ‘I’m only five years old myself, please don’t kill me.’

Wang Xiuying, London Review of Books, 5th March 2020

Nicole Jao, writing for Technode, added that as a means of trying to win back the young people Ding Talk created an apologetic pop video:

Nicole Jao reported a more sinister side to Ding Talk:

Despite being the number one business app in China app stores, DingTalk has gained a bad reputation for enabling companies to micro-manage, monitor, and exploit its employees. Prior to launching online learning tools, DingTalk’s app rating was already unenviable. The app’s rating dropped to close to one star across popular app stores in China and the negative reviews piled up

DingTalk begs for stars on China’s app stores by Nicole Jao, Mar 2, 2020

Interestingly this relates to the point Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd, was trying to make in his track ‘Another Brisk in the Wall’. In a 2010 interview with Mojo magazine, Waters said :

You couldn’t find anybody in the world more pro-education than me. But the education I went through in a boys’ grammar school in the fifties was very controlling and demanded rebellion. The teachers were weak and therefore easy targets. The song is meant to be a rebellion against errant government, against people who have power over you, who are wrong. Then it absolutely demanded that you rebel against that.

Roger Waters speaking to Mojo magazine, 2010

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