Tuesday, April 16, 2013

American Education Is Broken, Here Is How to Start Fixing It

I recently was made aware of an effort to produce a crucial documentary film, The School That Never Was. Quoting the kickstarter campaign website:
"We've seen the statistics and read the stories. If you're a parent, you live with it every day. Public education is broken. And no one seems to know how to fix it. It wasn't supposed to be like this. The American education system was once the envy of the world. Once. No more. 
The School That Never Was documentary will show how education got this way and what we can do to fix it."
The film will be produced by Chris Mortensen, an award winning writer, producer, and director who has created more than 100 hours of documentary and reality programming in the last fifteen years. His programs have appeared on History Channel, A&E, Discovery, TLC, BET, VH-1, ESPN, Travel Channel, and other channels. Most recently he completed a feature length documentary on the resurgent interest in Ayn Rand’s controversial novel Atlas Shrugged and the validity of its dire prediction for America.

What impresses me about this project is that it will not try to convince people that the current education system is flawed - everyone knows that. Instead, it will examine the development of American education by looking at the ideas that brought us to where we are today. In other words, it will take an approach virtually unheard of today, because it will consider solutions by first examining and identifying the causes of the problem! Again quoting the site:
The School That Never Was will identify and examine the fateful decisions that brought us to the low point we're at today. Then we'll navigate the road not taken to discover the school system that might have been but never was. 
Along the way it is our hope to answer such fundamental questions as:
- What are schools for?
- Who should teach?
- Who should be taught?
- What should they learn?
- Who should administer the schools?
- Who should pay for it?
- What role—if any—should the government have in educating our children?
According to the producers, the film will examine many viewpoints for how to improve American education--including radical positions often ignored by other media, but it will not be a polemic for any one position. Their goal is to be the first step in an education revolution by questioning every fundamental premise and rethinking every assumption underlying American education.  In my view, nothing short will do.  

If you want to be a part of the effort or contribute to the film's production or just watch the trailer, here's the link.

1 comment:

John Drake said...

Doug,
More documentary's such as this are sorely needed to help people identify the problems with our current system. However, I am only moderately hopeful that it'll be a success. I watched "Waiting for Superman" with similar hopes and was glad with some of the themes, but found the overall impact to be only moderate. They really didn't get to the core of the problem. Let's hope this film is better.