Tag Archives: What Did You Learn in School Today?

A dishonest ad

Public school in Anacortes, WA, 1904. Photo in public domain.

In the time of quarantine: My private peeve today: A public service ad on IMDb.

I’ve been streaming TV on Amazon Prime, which also gives me limited free access to the IMDb channel. Only you have to put up with ads. I can live with ads.

But there’s one public service ad they’ve been running that annoys me. I don’t know if it’s been running anywhere else.

It’s an ad for some kind of educational organization. It features various colorful vignettes of little kids having a wonderful time learning in school.

My tolerance for cute kids is limited, but I can handle that. It’s the music that annoys me.

What they play over the ad is Pete Seeger’s classic folk/protest song, “What Did You Learn in School Today?”

The overall effect of the ad is to say that public schools are magical places, where the kids learn good, wholesome things.

Which is pretty much the opposite of what the song is about. The song goes back to the 1960s. Pete Seeger, the composer, was the godfather of the American folk music movement, which was really huge in the early ‘60s. I was a big fan. I wasn’t, however, aware back then of the basic purposes and motivations of the movement. Most (if not all) of its leaders (especially Seeger) were communists and fellow travelers.

The lyrics of the full song portray a dialogue between a parent and a little boy who has come home from school. Asked what he learned in school today, the boy tells about how he learned that “Washington never told a lie.” And how war is glorious and relatively safe, and “someday I might get my chance.”

In other words, according to the original song, the public school is a brainwashing center that indoctrinates children into unthinking loyalty to the capitalist system, and prepares them to be cannon fodder in useless, imperialistic wars.

The ad I’ve been seeing on IMDB is dishonest on two levels. First of all, it pretends that the song is not satirical, but sincere.

Secondly, now that the Left has taken over the educational system, it attempts to use a protest song as propaganda for perpetuating a new establishment.