My local homeschool group, ENRICHri will be hosting a showing of the movie Class Dismissed, A film about learning outside the classroom. I was asked to do a review of the film before hand, because as we all know, I tend to be vocal in my opinion.
This film is amazing. If you have even a sliver of the tiniest thought that our current public school system isn't working for you, please see this film. If you are considering any alternative learning situation for your child, please see this film. If homeschooling has crossed your mind but scares the heck out of you, please see this film. If you are new to alternative education, if you're a veteran, it doesn't matter. Please see this film.
We follow one family with 2 girls, Ana (13) and Lily (11) as their parents grapple with the decision to leave the public school system. Interspersed with child development experts, educators, family therapists, and homeschool counselors, the film is never heavy handed (as I know some homeschoolers can be). It's truly an honest look at both the faults inherent in the institution of public schooling and a good look at the alternatives.
What I loved most is that the filmmakers capture the naked fear this family has in their decision. When I was deciding to homeschool, I was so scared I would shake at night. Choosing to step outside the ONLY system I knew seemed like the most monumental decision I could make. "What if I totally mess it up?", ran through my head constantly. A thousand questions, a thousand, "But what if, but what if, but what ifs..." kept me up at night. Any materials I could find when researching homeschooling, didn't address this palpable fear. All the books, all the blogs, all I found was, "It's okay. You'll figure it out. It'll be fine."
Let me tell you this: when making what feels like the biggest decision of your life and the potential to completely mess up your kid for life...you really don't like to hear, "You'll figure it out. It'll be fine." I love that Class Dismissed presents this fear AND how one family walked through it. For me and all those around me who have chosen a different path, I truly think this family's journey is fully representative of how it goes it down in reality.
Rachel, the mom is vocal in her doubts. Todd, the girls' stepfather is an animator and recognizes public school doesn't always foster creativity. Thomas, the girls' father is a believer in school being THE way to get educated and throughout the film is concerned about structure. This family dynamic is so real life. I am a single mom so I made the unilateral decision but all of my friends have a family dynamic that can be challenging when considering alternative education.
The film addresses everything. Not only the fear of messing up your child, but all the niggling questions and doubts that crop up.
-How will children learn if we don't make them?
-How do we know there's progress if we don't test them?
-Don't you have to be certified to teach?
-Don't children have to do things that they hate?
-And even the really tired question: What about socialization?
All styles of learning are included and given a preview of what it looks like in real life. What is deschooling? Unschooling? Classical education? On-line charter schools? Rachel and her daughters visit other families to see what is working for them. And finally, in the end they do find their way for what works best for their family.
I think this film is so representative of what it really looks like to leave the conventional system of educating our kids. My favorite line in the whole movie was from Rachel, "We got in the car and drove home. We were done with school. It was liberating. Like we discovered this little secret that no one else knew. That we didn't have to be compliant and obedient in a system that wasn't serving us."
I really can't recommend it enough. You can visit the Class Dismissed website for more information about getting a viewing in your area. If you are in the New England area, ENRICHri will be hosting a viewing on April 21, 2015 at 7pm at The Providence Place Mall Cinema. Tickets can be purchased here.