Roger Waters’ bitter denunciation of abusive teachers was framed by his own experience.
Water's own schooling was “awful . . . really terrible,” he explained in a 1979 interview. He was quick to point out that some of his teachers were kind—“it's not meant to be a blanket condemnation of teachers everywhere.” But bad teachers are in a position to do great damage, he said. “There were some at my school who were just incredibly bad and treated the children so badly, just putting them down. . . . Never encouraging them to do things, not really trying to interest them in anything, just trying to keep them quiet and still, and crush them into the right shape, so that they would go to university and 'do well.'"
Waters' final point reflected his underlying belief in education. Both of his parents were teachers, and he studied architecture in the Regent Street Polytechnic upon graduating secondary school. (It was there that he met Pink Floyd bandmates Richard Wright and Nick Mason.) In fact, as he emphasized in a 2009 interview in Mojo, "You couldn't find anybody in the world more pro-education than me.” But he viewed his own early education as “very controlling” and when you confront any sort of “errant government,” it is “absolutely demanded that you rebel against that."
The primary inspiration for The Wall was Pink Floyd's growing alienation from their fans. This fact was captured in the staging of their 1980 tour.
While The Wall explored broad themes of alienation and isolation, the immediate inspiration was band members' (and especially Roger Waters') growing alienation from their own concert fans. Most of them, Waters explained in 1979, were "just there for the beer." For an artist like Waters and a band that always viewed its music as something to listen to, not dance to, the behavior was downright offensive.
According to this interview, Waters was particularly put off by the rowdy fans crowding the stage "packed together, swaying madly . . . screaming and shouting and throwing things and hitting each other and crashing about and letting off fireworks." Not buying into the romantic idea that there was some sort of kinetic bond between audience and performer, he found live concerts "a rather alienating experience."
The centrality of the concert experience to the meaning of "the wall" was reflected in the staging of the 1980 Wall tour. Over the course of the concert a forty-foot wall of bricks was gradually constructed until the band was entirely hidden. At the end of the concert, the wall would collapse and the band and audience would be re-united.
It's not clear at which stage in the concert the band's real feelings toward their fans were most accurately reflected.