Think back to when you were preparing to go to college. If you were like me, you spent months researching academic programs, visiting several campuses, and talking with many people trying to discover the perfect fit for your learning needs. My question is this: why do we wait for college before we begin this tumultuous soul-searching for our “future”? Can we begin this quest to pursue our passions sooner?
The answer to these and other vital questions about 21st century education are answered in the film “Class Dismissed”. Watching the trailer, you may surmise that this film is about homeschooling. You would be partially correct, but if you decide not to see film based on that assumption, then you would be missing out. The film presents many modern day education practices around the country, from democratic free schools to online charter schools.
As a current homeschooler watching this film, I was pleased with how the filmmakers answered the stereotypical questions often asked to homeschoolers. Jeremy Stuart and Dustin Woodard present homeschooling as a viable option for those interested but intimidated by the thought of this method. They also show the continuous journey families embark on as they homeschool through the years. This helps veteran homeschoolers who question their path and future. The filmmakers follow a family on their quest to find the best learning environment for their girls. Throughout the film, we learn more about the history of education, different learning approaches, and alternatives to college. These topics apply to anyone who has or works with children. It is beautiful to see the paths of those who choose to go college alongside those who have successfully carved alternative paths. This film goes beyond Race to Nowhere and Waiting For Superman in that it provides alternative options outside the current system and hope for anyone, regardless of age, who is passionate about learning.
The overall message I hope people take from this film is that as parents we have choices and we can be part of change within the education system. Change can be frightening, especially when our education system has not changed much in the last 100 years. Teachers need our help. The majority of them desperately want the freedom to educate children the way they believe is developmentally appropriate. Teachers are passionate about what they do and love influencing the next generation. But they want to do it in a positive way and and not just focused on standardized test results. By watching this film, you are opening your mind to other alternatives to learning – alternatives that are currently in place across the country….and they are working. By opening your mind to other methods you can help advocate for teachers in your district and help change the American school system. I am not “Waiting for Superman” because, in my opinion, “Superman” is here. Each of us can be Superman as individuals and communities who are open to new ideas and proactive in promoting change. Jeremy Stuart and Dustin Woodard provide alternatives to learning while giving the audience a sense of empowerment and awareness that there are choices out there beyond the neighborhood public school.
I am a homeschooler who previously taught in a private school. I believe better alternatives to the current system should be available to all those who seek it – without a lottery system for the select few or paying thousands of dollars a year in private tuition. If you are ready to be enlightened and interested in keeping the love of learning alive in children, then you must see Class Dismissed. Whether you are a new homeschooler in search of information, in the midst of homeschooling in need of support, or in the public school looking for a fresh perspective on learning— this movie is for you! Everyone should see Class Dismissed!
<strong>Watch the trailer here:</strong>
Watch the trailer here:
Interested in seeing the film?
The producers, Jeremy Stuart and Dustin Woodard, are bringing the film to cities across the country. I had the honor of helping them bring Class Dismissed to a theater in Charlotte, NC. They also attended the screening and hosted a Q&A session after the movie. Jeremy and Dustin are warm, down to earth individuals who are looking to promote alternative learning environments for children. Check here to see if your city is on the list. If not, click here to find out how you can organize a screening in your area! If you are a homeschooling family make sure you bring friends and family to watch the film. I brought a friend to our screening who simply wanted to learn more about homeschooling. She found it very interesting and gained a better understanding of our family’s choice and how our children learn. Finally, if your children are elementary age and above they will enjoy watching the film too! My children could really identify with the people in the film and they left inspired with ideas they wanted to incorporate at home!
My favorite links about alternative education practices:
A therapist goes to middle school and tries to sit still and focus from the Washington Post
North Star— a self directed learning center for teens