For a long time I believed that the only purpose of cinema was to provide entertainment. I avoided tragedys and dramas. I lapped up comedies, heist movies, fantasy, superhero sagas and sci-fi genres as quickly as they made them. Then I became a dad.
Along with the total lack of time to watch anything, came a need to understand things better, a need to be savvy and educated in a lot of areas left unexplored. Thus happened my love with documentaries. I am now an avid documentary lover and unabashedly so. Here is my second documentary review for my blog on a remarkable piece of work I saw recently- Waiting for superman.
“Waiting for Superman” is a documentary on the state of education in United States today. It follows the lives of a few kids from different parts of the country and how the education system is not helping them achieve their goals. Specifically it talks about how there is a widening rift between the “great” schools which typically support affluent neighborhoods with the best teachers and the “dropout factories” across much of lower and middle class neighborhoods in America. Kids with potential are being supressed by the lack of good teaching and facilities that less capable but more fortunate kids get. The stories are hearbreaking and the situation is dire.
Davis Guggenheim, who helmed the climate wakeup call “An Inconvenient Truth” handles something more personal and more immediate here. The state of education in this country is something that affects all of us and is captured in a way that makes you want to do more. Private schools are not for everyone. And good education must be something that is available to everyone. The documentary makes a great case for that.
“Waiting for Superman” also highlights the political nature of the teaching system, its all powerful unions and how it affects the kind of teachers that our kids get to learn from. There is a lot to worry and not much hope in things changing for the better in this regard. While charter schools are championed in the documentary, the limited number of them coupled with the increasing budget cuts that they are subjected to, makes them less available to everyone. Some specific schools that offer a unique approach to education like Summit Prep in Redwood City, CA are also highlighted.
Overall, the documentary is an eye-opener. One that I very strongly recommend everyone to see and learn from. Irrespective of your political leanings and opinions, this is a view of the state of education in a country which prides itself in being one of the most advanced nations in the world.
I would recommend that you atleast watch the trailer. There a lot of other reviews in imdb if you are interested. The official website is now a trove of information and suggested ideas of how to change the education system in the US. The Bluray/DVD is available for sale and on Netflix.
On a parting note, if you do enjoy the documentary, a few others on the same topic are recommended thus. I am yet to watch these, just so you know.
1. The Cartel
2. The Lottery