Every country that has a public education system based on the industrial model is facing the problem of its schools being obsolete. The film is therefore internationally relevant to anyone wanting to support the shift to a 21st century learning model.
High Tech High, which the film producer, Vicki Abeles, describes as one of the most vibrant and innovative schools she has seen, helps to plant the vision of a new educational model. Don’t be misled by its name. It is a comprehensive school where students learn by doing on a full range of subjects.
Larry Rosenstock, a cofounder of High Tech High, expresses two views that people are realizing are fundamentals of the new learning model. He says, “We have found that the more we trust young people, the more trustworthy they become.” Our view of the learner has to shift from that of being someone who must be led by the teacher, to someone the teacher supports. The film is rich with young people who reinforce this belief.
Secondly, he contends that the single greatest impediment to educational innovation is the traditional school schedule. Sir Ken Robinson, noted educator and creator of the most watched Ted Talk, shares this view. Marching students to the bell has long been regarded as detrimental to learning, and the film gives examples of programs that have moved away from it.
Equally important as having a vision of a new model for education is having a vision of how to transition to it. The Trigg County efforts to move from the old to the new are presented in some detail and offer some good insights, but ultimately it is the old-fashioned way to attempt change. Its approach to change requires a sustained effort by a strong leader who is a very passionate visionary, and often his work is undone soon after he has moved on.
The program initiated by a student at Monument Mountain Regional High School provides a route to change that is more inviting. Although not spelled out, it raises the prospect that the key to large-scale change is to start small with people who want to pioneer it. By giving these programs room to grow as more and more people come to appreciate their benefits, schools can transform themselves with a minimum of disruption. A particularly important aspect of the Monument Mountain program is that it was implemented in the students’ local school. This has many advantages, most important of which is that it preserves and even augments the potential of public schools to be community builders.
Often the screening of a film like Beyond Measure does little more for a community than provide an evening’s entertainment. The film producers have little control over this. It is up to the viewers to make something of it. The people who watch Beyond Measure are needed to support efforts to gain for all of us, not just for children, schools that lead us to a more promising future. OPERI is a voice for change through which people can come together. Please read Rights and Resources to learn more about its views, and subscribe to its social media. Links to articles and social media are found on the OPERI homepage.
The first Ottawa screening of Beyond Measure was hosted in January 2016. The following links will take you to audience comments arising from the film and some OPERI responses to those comments.
Permission is granted to share OPERI material freely with acknowledgement of its source.