40 Songs About School, Intelligence, and Feeling Smart
Never Stop Learning
Education can open so many doors of possibility, although not everyone appreciates its life-altering potential. As I watch soon-to-be minted high school graduates, I wonder if they understand the value of their schooling and how many people supported them along their path to success. Just as importantly, do they realize that some of the most important lessons in life can never come from a classroom?
Perhaps you're celebrating the start or end of the school year or looking forward to graduation. If so, why not make a playlist to celebrate school and feeling smart? We've got a long list of pop, rock, and country songs reflecting a variety of angles on education, including:
- school spirit
- dropping out
- memories of classmates
- changes after high school
- joy of summer vacation and
- what was learned.
1. "We're Going to Be Friends" by The White Stripes
Remember the kids you once played tag with on the elementary school playground? It was a time when school was the center of your small universe. And making friends was your biggest priority. This delightful alternative rock song from 2001 describes childhood schoolmates as they embark upon a new school year of experiences together.
2. "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd
One of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, this 1979 rock song protests overly restrictive schooling and boarding schools. According to the song, thought control and dark sarcasm are among the tactics that teachers use to control students, and students are better off without them. I've had teachers who name-called students and hated their jobs, and I sure remember them, but not in a good way. How about you?
3. "Good Girls" by 5 Seconds of Summer
This 2014 pop song describes a smart high school girl who is headed for Harvard. She's a straight-A student who has her parents convinced that she's spending all of her time with her nose buried in the books. However, she acknowledges that good girls are bad girls who haven't been caught.
4. "High School" by Kelsea Ballerini
The guy in this to-be-released country song is stuck in a time warp. He still drives the hand-me-down truck that he did back in high school. He lives for Friday night football games, still wears his football jersey, and calls the girl he dated back in high school.
But her heart has moved on and so has the rest of his life in the five years since he has graduated. The world can be cruel when you're stuck in an emotional vaccum, too immature to move forward.
Facts and Statistics About Education, Schools and Intelligence
Did You Know?
By 1918, 31 American states required children ages 8-14 to attend school. By 1918, each state mandated that students complete elementary school.
In the U.S., high school dropouts are 8 times more likely to be incarcerated. They are also 50% less likely to vote, not eligible for up to 90% of jobs, more likely to need public assistance, and they earn less than half as much as college graduates.
The following countries have 100% literacy rates: Finland, Greenland, North Korea, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, and Vatican City.
American students who are not reading at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to later drop out of school.
Only 11-12% of Americans can read above an eighth grade level, whereas 14% of the American population cannot read at all.
IQ test scores have increased an average of 3 points from one generation to the next from 1930 until the present. This overall improvement applies to every modern industrialized country, age range, and ability level.
5. "School's Out" by Alice Cooper
Woo-hoo! This celebratory 1972 hard rock song was named one of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Capturing the sheer elation of school vacation, it's become an anthem for the the best two and a half months of the year. (The song actually claims that there's no more school forever because the school has been blown up.)
The hit has been so widespread that Alice Cooper sang it with The Muppets and allowed it to be used by Staples office stores to promote back-to-school items.
6. "ABC" by Jackson 5
The narrator in this 1970 R&B pop song thinks he can teach his honey how to love, so he sits her down and explains how simple it is. He convinces her that it's as easy as learning the alphabet or counting to three.
7. "Fifteen" by Taylor Swift
The narrator in this 2008 country song describes life as a 15 year-old high school freshman. It provides perspective about false promises, changing priorities, and the process of discovering who one is.
All of this identity-searching happens during those four glorious (and sometimes terrible) years in high school. I'm so glad to be an adult!
8. "Beauty School Dropout" by Frankie Avalon
It's a sad situation when you have the dream but not the drive to finish beauty school. This 1978 pop song from the movie Grease makes light of Frenchy of the Pink Ladies who flunks beauty school. The narrator, her guardian angel, urges her to return to high school.
9. "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" by Timbuk3
In this 1986 pop song, a future nuclear scientist boasts that he's got a great future in front of him: a good-paying job lined up after graduation, good grades, and he loves his field of study. He's one of the in-demand STEM students who can just about name his price. What an enviable position to be in!
10. "High School Never Ends" by Bowling for Soup
This 2006 rock tune reveals the truth about high school: that it's a microcosm of the bigger world. People gossip about others' attire and sexual relationships, social connections and appearance, addictions and emotional disorders. Truly, high school never ends, and only the players change.
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11. "(What a) Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke
The poor sorry sucker in this 1960 rock song admits that he is no A student, and he rattles off all the subjects he's performed poorly in: history, biology, science, French, geography, trig, and algebra.
However, he is certain that he loves the girl in his life, and it's his hope that if he tries hard enough to be an A student, maybe she will love him in return.
12. "School Days" by Chuck Berry
Long live rock and roll! The teeny boppers of the 1950s looked forward to heading to the juke joint to dance and cut loose with friends.
This 1957 song became a rock anthem. It describes how after a stressful day of tests, dealing with teachers and trying to find a seat in the lunchroom, music provides a welcome release for students.
13. "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake
I like the narrator in this 2001 rock song because he sees intelligence as sexy. You have to love a man who can appreciate a woman's mind as much as her behind.
The guy describes his ideal woman. He's looking for one with a short skirt, but he also wants one
- with a mind like a diamond
- with the right allocations and good dividends
- who's fast and thorough
- and sharp as a tack.
14. "Don't Be a Dropout" by James Brown
The narrator in this 1967 rock song tries to convince the listener of the necessity of an education by relating a story about a friend. When he went to a job interview he was told that without an education, one might as well be dead. Seems like a harsh way to make a point, don't you think?
Even so, he's right that dropouts face an uphill battle in that they don't qualify for a majority of available jobs, earn substantially less in their lifespan than their more educated counterparts, and experience higher rates of unemployment. So as James Brown encourages, stay in school!
15. "Be True To Your School" by Beach Boys
There's a lot of "rah, rah, rah" and "sis, boom, bah" in this peppy pop song from 1963. It urges students to show some school spirit. The narrator defends his school's honor just as he would stick up for his girl. Do you show pride in your school?
16. "Too Cool For School" by Fountains Of Wayne
This 2000 rock song from the horror comedy Scary Movie describes a truant who is an instigator, eliminating his enemies when the lights go down:
He's got his own way of getting things done
He's always looking out for number one
Don't try to beat him cause he's already won
And he's too cool for school.
17. "No Such Thing" by John Mayer
In this 2002 rock song from John Mayer's early career, he speaks out against guidance counselors and others who advise students to embark on careful and sensible career paths. Instead, he'd rather follow a long shot dream, something that makes him completely happy, even if others consider it less practical:
They love to tell you
Stay inside the lines
But something's better
On the other side.
18. "School Is Out" by Regina Spektor
Empty schools can be lonely, reflective places. The narrator (a student? faculty or staff member?) walks the bare hallways of her school in this unreleased pop song. She makes note of the pennies that litter the floor, the bathroom graffiti, and items left behind, feeling disconnected and out of place without the crowd of people around her.
19. "Don't Stay in School" by Boysinaband
Instead of taking the larger perspective, the narrator in this 2015 rock song laments that he learned about isotopes, the American West, Shakespeare, physics, and the solar system. Instead, he wanted to learn more practical things in school, such as:
- how to vote
- how to look after his health
- the laws of the land
- how to budget his money
- what to do if he has a headache
- how to be a good parent
He comes to the senseless conclusion that his childhood was wasted inside those four walls. Hey, we can't be spoon fed all of the information we need in life, big guy. Express some curiosity and go get the information you need for yourself.
20. "Smarter Than You" by The Undertones
The know-it-all narrator in this 1979 rock song claims to be an intellectual. Within just a few minutes of meeting a girl, he claims that he is smarter.
Anyone who is this impressed with himself is probably hiding some monumental insecurities. He's a case in point for the old saying by Mark Twain: "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
Even More Songs About Education, School, Intelligence, and Feeling Smart
23. She Was Smart
24. Smart Girls
25. What I Go to School For
26. School Is Out
Gary U.S. Bonds
29. Hot for Teacher
31. Man Smart (Woman Smarter)
33. Rock N Roll High School
34. Smart Woman (In A Real Short Skirt)
35. High School Heart
John Michael Montgomery
36. Smokin' in the Boys' Room
37. Stupid Girl
38. Be Chrool to Your Scuel
Twisted Sister (featuring Alice Cooper)
39. Graduation (Friends Forever)
40. Senior Year
Locations with Names Associated with Education, School, Intelligence, and Feeling Smart
Tell us the truth. How smart are you?
Questions & Answers
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