Class Dismissed: A Film About Learning Outside of the Classroom
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Frustrated with the traditional school system, a family in Los Angeles pulls their two children out of one of the highest-rated schools in the area and takes their education into their own hands. In the quest to better their children’s lives, they must overcome long-standing assumptions about education and face the social ramifications of their bold decision.
Class Dismissed will challenge viewers to take a fresh look at what it means to be educated in the 21st century and offer up a radical new way of thinking about the process of learning.
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If you've already decided to homeschool, you'll want to show "Class Dismissed" to your friends and extended family members who don't understand how homeschooling works and why, for many families, it's a better fit than standard schooling. Director Jeremy Stuart has gone out of his way to present homeschooling in a matter-of-fact way that's informative, not righteous. It doesn't push homeschooling as "the one right way" or try to make non-homeschoolers feel bad, so you won't be putting your friendships at risk when you share this movie with others.
Admittedly, I'm biased -- not only did I homeschool my own kids (and love it), but I'm also a parenting coach who advocates self-directed education, and I appear briefly in the film. Through my work, I frequently encounter parents who are interested in homeschooling but need help seeing what it would be like to leave conventional schooling behind and take their family's education into their own hands. Now I can simply recommend viewing "Class Dismissed" and they see how homeschooling empowers parents and students to learn on their own terms and, in the process, rediscover the joy of familyhood.
I highly recommend both the DVD and the streaming version of "Class Dismissed."
Not too impressed with the filmmaker's choice of family to feature as the case study. It appeared the director's intent was to draw hesitant, unsure audience members in by exhibiting a family they could relate to. But the tense, high-strung mother and passive step-father seemed to be setting an example of what not to do...letting their children sit around and do nothing, and then recreating the public schooling pedagogical fallacy by purchasing a traditional curriculum. There was a little drama about a homework demerit given to the older girl--kind of a "last straw" with the public school--and the family couldn't even get the story straight in their separate recounts: The girl said plainly that she did not get one of her assignments done....the mom says in a separate shot that she did the homework but forgot to turn it in (adding that her daughter is "such a good kid" in a semi emotional tone of voice, as though she had suffered somehow by receiving this demerit for not finishing her homework). It looked like the parents were shielding their little snowflake from unpleasant, non affirming consequences and conflating their own personal offense at the demerit with the school's overall quality and effectiveness. I can understand if parents think the homework load is excessive and understand the downfalls of excessive use of demerits, but if that's the case, then just leave it at that. Don't conflate overall school quality with debatable disagreements on disciplinary philosophy.
It was a bit clunky, but an adequate introduction to the idea that public schooling is neither satisfactory nor the only available option. I was much more impressed with the filmmaker's podcast interview on Chris Kresser's Revolution Health Radio (which, ironically, was plugging this film) than I was with this film.
Like it focused more time on unschooling than anything else.
If you ever watched "War on Kids" and didn't like that very much, and want to see what families do besides school, watch this movie. However, you may or may not like it. It all depends on your perspective, values, and beliefs when watching this film. In addition, there are also several speakers (who are knowledgeable on different educational choices) that talk about families and learning. Well I hope you enjoy!