Monday, April 08, 2013

Won't Back Down - another school reform feel-good movie

Yet another inspirational movie telling us what we already know about schools and encouraging us to personally get involved and fix the ailing education system. 

Won't Back Down is a movie about two determined mothers­, one a teacher, who risk everything to transform their children's failing inner city school. Naturally they encounter numerous problems including an overbearing and entrenched bureaucracy that fight their every move to to make a difference in the educational life and future of their children. Watch the trailer on YouTube.

BUT if we really COULD fix schools we WOULD have by now. We've had a hundred years of school reform: generation after generation of dedicated parents and teachers busting their guts to make schools work and to improve the life of school students.

Obviously some schools do for some students some of the time. Maybe even most of the time for 60% of children, however sadly that number is steadily falling. I've personally been in schools where parents and teachers and staff with a shared vision and common goals work together to try and create the kind of school we all want for our children, one that meets the educational, social and developmental needs of individual students. And I wish they are sustainable, but they're not. If such schools - if such efforts - were sustainable, wouldn't they be abundant by now? And wouldn't we have heard the end of all those complaints about how schools are failing children? Education would no longer be a hot political topic.

Sadly the efforts of the teachers, parents and staff last only as long as THOSE people are working diligently and hard at sustaining the results. They burn out, retire or move on. The stress of continually fighting a system of education which naturally works against providing attention and care for individuals wears them down. Schools are not and never were designed to educate individuals. Perhaps Sudbury and similar community schools come close, but without constant and active and willing participation by the parent population, the burn-out rate is still too high. Children don't belong in schools, they belong in communities - with their parents and siblings, relatives and friends, interacting with a range of different people for different reasons every day, living life, learning naturally and simply.    

Feel good school movies, even ones that are based on true stories, are just that, feel good movies. They tell a story. And we all love stories. Stories inspire us, move us, motivate us.

Maybe the next movie Walden Media invest in will be about home education. Fingers crossed.


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