Beyond Schooling — A New Film Project

I wanted to share with you a project I have begun work on. This is an outgrowth of this blog. I feel that it is something that is needed at this point, and I am extremely focused on making it happen. If you would like to be of assistance to this film project, I welcome your ideas, your experience and your voice. Some of my regular readers from other schools will be contacted as I get into more development.

Beyond Schooling — No Grades. No Homework. No Tests.
Documenting a Grassroots Movement in Education.

Brief

Recently, the release of several documentaries on education have ignited a conversation in the media, about how public schooling is not working, and the price our children and society are paying for it. Key among these films are Waiting for Superman, The Lottery and Race To Nowhere, which expose the inadequacies of the whole system of grading, homework and testing, and how these have conspired to create undue pressures are robbing our children of their childhoods.

What these films do not provide are adequate answers to the problems. They ignore the fact that there has been, for several decades, a growing grassroots movement in alternative education. One of these important movements is the Democratic Free School movement, which has accelerated in the last decade as parents seek to overthrow the institutional approach to teaching, and commit to a radical form that encourages learning and incorporates, with great success, a child’s natural curiosity and motivations.

As a founding parent of Brooklyn Free School, which is now in its’ 7th year, I have become deeply involved in this movement. For the past 2 years I have run a blog (https://bzeines.wordpress.com/) that has become a respected commentary on the problems of institutionalized education. My wish to do a film on this subject is an outgrowth of that. It is the expression of a wish to answer the question “What else?”

Beyond Schooling will illustrate this, by presenting a positive message that is focused on children as their own solution to their own situation—that in order for our society to create critical thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, and affect positive changes within our society, we need to reevaluate our approach to education. We need to rethink the meaning of the word itself. And this means trusting a different process — one that crosses the lines of race, gender and class.

At this stage, I would like to explore the playing field of the many authors, teachers, parents and children who are part of this growing movement to take back school, as a human responsibility. I want to hear the voices of those who care, and give the audience a view into the process in action.

Initially, we will visit several schools throughout North America. Using film verité, we will get a look into another world where children have learned to love learning. Where children have a say in how their school is run. That through play, teamwork and pursuing individual interests, they gain a larger world view, increased self-esteem and are able to navigate their way to achieving equal, or better levels of academic understanding as their peers in more conventional settings.

The experience I bring to this is 30 plus years as an art director, designer, illustrator, cartoonist, musician and fine artist. Behind everything I do is my love of telling stories. This is not just a story about democratic free schools — it is my story. As someone who went through public school in the 1960’s & 70’s, I can give a first hand introduction as to how I got involved in this movement.

Assisting me at this stage will be Tony Benjamin of Humble Films with whom I have worked with for over 15 years. He has completed the feature length documentary Leap of Faith (about religious conversion to orthodox Judaism), as well as several films, which include commercially sponsored shorts.

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