This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a showing of Class Dismissed. Add this movie to the list of food for thought, along with Waiting for Superman, Schooling the World, and Schools of Trust.
This movie takes on an important thread missing from the others: homeschooling. The filmmakers followed a family who was making the decision to transition from public school to homeschooling. They followed the family for two years, as they left school and went through the process of figuring out (sometimes painfully) what they wanted for their daughters and what homeschooling would look like for them. They intersperse that journey with interviews from many people in the alternative education community.
The film certainly has its flaws. For one, I found the soundtrack to be a little irritating in that manipulative sort of way that has always bothered me. It seemed to contribute to the sense that it was not being critical enough of the family’s journey. There is also too little diversity shown, especially for a film which is tackling such diverse modes of education. But it is rare to see a positive view of homeschooling and unschooling, or any view at all, really. It offers an interesting historical context for our current schools. And it is lovely to watch a family being so thoughtful about what their needs and goals are and how they can make them happen outside of society’s small box for what education is.
I related with this movie in many ways. I went through a similar process with my younger son, when we homeschooled/unschooled for a year. Ultimately, we ended up going back to “school” at Brooklyn Free School. This school is perfect for my son in many ways and he is very happy there, but it took a lot of thought and trial and error to come to the decision. Now, he can choose what he wants to do and when, and he is also part of a strong community.
I feel this sense of community is one of the most important things parents struggle with when contemplating alternative (and sometimes isolating) education options like homeschooling. Which is why it’s nice that the filmmakers recommend that people host their own screenings, with the help of their screening packs. Part of building community is opening it up to these kinds of conversations, and this is a worthy film to start the dialogue.