As an educator, when I heard about “Waiting For Superman“, the new movie about public education in the U.S. I was interested. Based on some online conversations and comments, it just may be that the pre-release activity and commentary could be as interesting and perhaps more substantive than the movie itself! I’ll definitely be either going to see it in the theater, or getting it via my Netflix after all the hype settles down. I’m guessing that there will be a fair amount of polarization around the movie’s message, how desperate the crisis in public education is, pointing out angels and demons, and advocating necessary solutions.
The timing is perfect. The season of political conversation is upon us. TIME magazine’s annual public service issue addresses the issue head on. The cover title is “What Makes a School Great”. NBC’s Education Nation, a nationally broadcast conversation about education is underway online. I think it’s great to have education at or near the center of conversations. AND I hope the dialogue quickly moves beyond polarization, black and white agendas, fear, and nonexistent silver bullets to an appreciation of the complexity of making education work for all kids, what the strengths of our system are and how we can build on them, identifying the needs, overcoming the deficits, and moving forward together. We all know that simplistic discussions and solutions often lead us down the wrong paths…don’t we?
A fellow educator pointed out to me that all this pre-release activity is a great opportunity to model effective literacy strategies for improving understanding and critical thinking! Even before buying a ticket or ordering online we can consider what the title might mean, why the writer and director created the movie, what the messages are, and how people are reacting to it.
So, while you’re waiting for “Superman” check these “pre-reading” activities out. Might something like this work in a middle level classroom?
Here are some links to recent commentaries about Waiting for Superman.