What is the value of institutionalized education?
That’s the question British rapper-poet Suli Amoako (known as Suli Breaks) poses in his video “Why I Hate School But Love Education,” the latest of spoken word videos to go viral this year.
For Amoako, the message cost him his day job.
"I've been out of a job since last week," he says. "My employers found my YouTube and didn't agree with a video I had from July."
It's a consequence he's willing to accept to have his beliefs heard.
Amoako's latest video is a call to re-evaluate the state of college and universities based on his own educational experiences.
“I’ve been out of university for three years now, and when I was in university I didn’t feel the drive," Amoako says. "This was the general consensus among my peers. A lot of people weren’t passionate about what they were doing.”
"I felt cheated."
Since its release on Sunday, the six-minute video has already racked up more than half a million views on YouTube.
Hailing from North London with Ghanaian roots, Amoako has been making videos for three years. He is best known as the artist behind “R.I.P,” a spoken word recitation that calls “to arms to embrace peace.” His most recent video has garnered more than ten times the views of “R.I.P.”
In “Why I Hate School,” Amoako argues that mainstream schooling hones ineffective skills that defeat the purpose of true education, like the memorization of facts for exams that are quickly forgotten. Citing the billion-dollar success stories college dropouts Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, he goes as far as questioning the value of schooling at all.
“Education is not just about regurgitating facts from a book on someone else's opinion on a subject to pass an exam,” Amoako says in the video. “If education is the key, school is the lock.”
The video, filmed at Waltham Forest College in northeast London, was inspired by Jefferson Bethke’s video, “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus,” which surpassed 20 million views in January and sparked a trend in spoken word productions on YouTube.
But not everyone is buying Amoako’s message.
“The whole problem with this video is that it works under the assumption that people know what they want to do with their lives and are instead wasting money in college and university,” writes Michael Gallagher, a Canadian student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. “Isn’t it possible that some people go to college or university because it is a safe way to not only increase their employability but to find themselves?”
Amoako’s video also comes just two years in the wake of the UK student riots sparked by tuition hikes. It is this skepticism of the institutionalized system that drives Amoako’s message home.
“[School] rarely ever develops your mind to the point where you can perceive red as green and continue to go when someone says stop,” he notes in the video.
But, as Emmeline Zhao argues in her blog for the Huffington Post, “the question is not whether education is ‘still worth’ the cost, but how to reform so that it is still worth it on a practical level – and how to make formal education more affordable and accessible to all.”
Regardless, the video has provoked a response from social networkers: it has been shared almost 200,000 times.
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