By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders, TrailerAddict
Waiting for Superman
The subject matter of Waiting for Superman is inherently more interesting to me than An Inconvenient Truth. I think the real problem with the climate crisis is there are too many of us. We can make all the change we want, but we’re still going to overrun the planet. There can’t be seven billion of us, and there certainly can’t be 10, or 14 or 19 as they project. However, I’ll give you that all seven billion of us should at least be smart.
Review: Waiting for Superman
I always blamed No Child Left Behind for our education problems. It sounds like a great idea to include everybody in education. However, the reality is there are always some people who are just going to fall behind. Nothing personal, it just happens. So creating standards that everyone can meet is actually lowering the bar. It turns out, the system is so broken, it can’t even get that far to the point where you have to worry about dividing attention between good learners and bad learners.
Waiting for Superman proves me wrong on another thing too. I was always against longer school days and longer school years. I thought it’s quality over quantity. You can’t force people to learn by cramming more learning into them. Well, the KIPP schools shown in the film have longer hours and even Saturday classes, and they work!
I would have hated that but it looks way more positive than the environment I was in, and I went to a good private school. But if the teachers encouraged individuality at a young age and built students up feel empowered by the material, I would have been into that. They also don’t allow TV and video games, which seems counterintuitive to me too because that artistic expression was vital to me (I ended up doing okay in the world of television as it turns out.) I’m wrong though. KIPP works.
I always thought structure was an issue. I did well in school but I’ve had so much more success now that I don’t have to force myself into a 9 to 5 routine. The structure of school, even a good one, is so oppressive. But I always knew it was the basics that had to be done to get where I wanted to go. If you don’t have that instinct, I guess you need a school that engages you, but hell, why not have that for everyone?
They still don’t address the issue of problem students. I know it’s not the point of the documentary. The point is the education system offered to everyone, but I feel like it should be included. Even in private school, there are some smart kids who just will not do the work, and their parents paid a fortune to send them there. That’s unsolvable, so at least the film hopes we can build a system that provides a choice to the students who want it.
A throwaway comment is the most important point of the movie. One commentator says that the millions of uneducated dropouts have no vested interest in living. That is why education matters. It’s not about industrial innovation or competing with other countries or contributing to the economy. All that comes later. You’ve got to be able to think to even know what you’re doing with life. Why isn’t THAT all over the movie? He really buried the lead there.
Also, the American confidence is another offhanded point that’s really a more important problem. You can’t make reform if everybody thinks they’re already awesome. I guess the movie is the instrument to impact that, but the country still needs an ego check.
It did annoy me though that the text at the end of the movie came on soooooo slowly. Obviously they had to take their time for the people who didn’t get the education Waiting for “Superman” hopes for but it made me antsy waiting for the words to finish the sentences.