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We Are NOT Teaching Post-Funk Techno-Industrial Nü-Metal In Schools! We Are Teaching Funk-Infused Synthetic Post-Punk Neo-Metal.
Any suggestion otherwise is propaganda
Ellen Maurer was a teacher in the Virginia public school system. Her son writes the political comedy Substack “I Might Be Wrong”.
As an elementary school teacher, my job is to give students the tools they need to succeed in school and in life. Obviously, a knowledge of heavy metal music and all attendant metal sub-genres is part of that. One of my greatest joys is watching a child's eyes light up as they hear Metallica's "Master of Puppets" for the first time; seeing that tells me that they've started a journey of discovery that will last a lifetime.
Recently, activists have begun using school curriculum as a political football. Cable news and AM talk radio are in a frenzy over the alleged bogeyman warping our children's minds. Their claims are without merit. Nonetheless, school board meetings across the country have been overrun by angry parents demanding to know what their children are being taught.
Let me be perfectly clear: Despite what activists claim, children are emphatically NOT being taught post-funk techno-industrial nü-metal in schools. This is, frankly, a ridiculous charge. Children are being taught funk-infused synthetic post-punk neo-metal, as required by state guidelines that have been in place for more than a decade.
The first time I heard this accusation, I scarcely believed it was serious. A clip of a parent waving a Staind album popped up on my Twitter feed, and I almost burst out laughing. As if we would ever impose the rap-infused caterwauling of Staind -- or for that matter Korn or Papa Roach -- on children! Obviously, those offerings would be better suited to a college-level Intro To Thrash course. The idea that teachers across the country are putting on Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba" and saying "class, what are the etymological origins of the line 'Bawitdaba da bang da bang diggy diggy'?" doesn't pass the laugh test.
Here's the truth: A child's metal education starts with the classics. So: Judas Priest, Motörhead, and anything Ozzy (though a teacher may choose to focus specifically on Sabbath). From there, coursework progresses commensurate with the child's ability to recognize which bands totally fucking shred. By middle school, a student should be able to differentiate between the take-no-prisoners slaying of Pantera or Dream Theatre and the drop-D poseurism of Soundgarden or Faith No More. By graduation, a student should know the difference between black metal and goth metal, be able to accurately arrange bands according to djent-ness, and be able to explain how Dave Mustaine's departure from Metallica led to the collapse of glam metal in the early '90s.
This basic framework has existed since Zeppelin. What's changed is parents' belief -- stoked by activists -- that the curriculum includes the body of work known as nü-metal. Part of the confusion seems to stem from a lack of understanding about what, exactly, nü-metal is. Some parents think that any post-grunge, hip-hop infused guitar rock that relies on syncopated rhythms and minor-key tonalities is nü-metal. In one clip that's been circulating on social media, a parent refers to Primus as nü-metal -- this is absolute madness. Primus is nü-metal about as much as Mercyful Fate is Krautrock!
In my class, I teach an extensive unit on post-punk modern metal that draws from funk and the hard-industrial bands of the '90s (Rammstein, Pitchshifter). But this is neo-metal, not nü-metal. And yet, activists push their agenda by blurring the line between the two. For example, I have repeatedly heard bands like Nine Inch Nails and Angelspit referred to as "techno". They are not techno! They're synthetic. Techno bands use a foundation of electronically-created synthetic sounds; synthetic bands use technology to modify the sounds of traditional instruments. Anyone who claims not to see the difference is either arguing in bad faith or just an idiot.
Where does this end? Will we reach a point at which we decide not to teach our children about Slayer or Tool? Will teachers be hauled off to jail for exposing students to Antrhax's "Among the Living"? This is erasing history. This is a scare tactic from people with a political agenda. Activists are whipping parents into a frenzy, making them think that I'm playing Slipknot in class, which is lunacy. The closest I get to Slipknot is a two-week unit on Joey Jordison's post-Slipknot band Murderdolls.
We must never lose sight of the fact that what matters most is the children. If we send them out into the world thinking that AC/DC are the same band when fronted by Brian Johnson as they were with Bon Scott, or that war metal ended with Sepultura, then we haven't prepared them for life. Nothing matters more to me than my students' education, and I don't want to see that compromised by cynical activists who wouldn't know a double-kick from a blast beat if it head-butted them in a mosh pit.