Eight rockin’ back-to-school lessons from School of Rock

The movie School of Rock, starring Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, and a young Miranda Cosgrove, turns  ten this year. To celebrate, take a few notes from the prep school and its imposter teacher, Duey Finn, for pre- and post-college life. 

1. Grades aren’t important

“If I was gonna give you a grade, I’d give you an A. But that’s the problem. Rock ain’t about doing things perfect.”

Okay, so it is important to pass your classes and pay attention, but don’t get caught up in the difference between an A+ and an A. The most important part of learning, in and out of the classroom, is that you’re willing to mess up. The actual process of learning—the questions, the misunderstandings, the errors—leads you closer to knowledge. 

2. The world is run by The Man

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“The Man ruined the ozone, and he’s burning down the Amazon, and he kidnapped Shamu and put her in a chlorine tank.”

The Man is that oppressive figure working to keep people down. In his first lesson plan, Finn tells his students about the bummer that is The Man. While it does serve as a damper, it ultimately becomes inspiration to reach higher for greatness. The next time you’re mad, remember to stick it to The Man. Take that, MTV. 

3. Speak up for what you want

“Can I be the band stylist instead?” “Of course you can, fancy pants.”

Everybody’s favorite flamboyant fourth grader, Billy, was originally assigned to soundproof the classroom as a member of The Security Detail. By speaking up and getting his dream job in the band, Billy earned the right to sass Finn over his bow tie, later delivering everyone’s favorite quote: “You’re tacky and I hate you.” 

4. Let music be an instigator

“Your homework is to listen to some real music. Get inspired.”

One Direction is fun, but don’t forget to spend some time taking in music that gets you thinking. If lyrics are your thing, flip through leaflets or listen to what artists are relaying. Get inspired by the difficulty of some drum parts, then listen to the effortless beauty of a string section and feel motivated for your day.

5. Love what you do

“I’m playing it the way you told me.” “I know, it’s perfect. But rock is about the passion, man. Where’s the joy?”

Thankfully, we’re at a school where most students are in love with their career path, but don’t let high positions or future jobs blur your vision. You could deliver facts straight out of a textbook or film a perfectly shot movie, but it won’t come across with the energy people crave if there’s no passion behind it. Perfection isn’t perfect unless you love what you’re doing.

6. Looks aren’t important

“You heard of Aretha Franklin, right? OK, she’s a big lady. But when she sings, she blows people’s minds. Everybody wants to party with Aretha!”

Before the band’s audition for Battle of the Bands, Tameka pulls Finn aside, saying she’s too nervous to perform because she’s afraid people will laugh at her weight.  “All you gotta do is rock your heart out and people will dig you, I swear.”

7. Leave your mark on the world

“This is serious business here … One great rock show can change the world.”

If you put enough effort into something, it will pay off. Not only that, but people will listen. A movement has to start somewhere, and often it isn’t created with the intent of becoming an overnight sensation. Look at Boston Strong. A project created with genuine passion and love is too contagious not to share. 

8. Winning isn’t everything

“Dude, you gotta cheer up. We played a kick-ass show.”

Ah, the classic role reversal. As the whole group of students comforts Finn after they lose in the Battle of the Bands concert, one thing becomes clear. After all those years of adults telling you things are too complicated for you to understand, it makes sense why they mask things up. We forget that our problems are as simple, or as complicated, as we make them. Keep positivity in your back pocket and you’ll come in first place soon enough. As professor Finn said, “You’re not hardcore unless you live hardcore.”