Movies, Documentary, Drama

Waiting for Superman

No Comments 19 December 2013

Waiting for Superman

It would be inappropriate to call Waiting for Superman a documentary about the causes of America’s failing schools. Think of it as a promotional film to get you to join the movement to demand changes to American schools. And what a promotional film it is

Davis Guggenheim is a master of using the medium to promote a cause. When I watched his earlier film An Inconvenient Truth, I did not fully appreciate that Guggenheim was staging a performance to leave you little choice but to agree with his conclusion.  It is impossible not to be moved and taken in by the charming kids from the lower rungs of American society who are the stars of this film. Unlike for the case climate science, I know enough the problems associated with school improvement. It is difficult to come up with simple rules for effective teaching that could make all teachers better.  So after about an hour into the film it becomes clear to me that Davis had constructed the film entirely in the service of promoting a cause. Families and kids are recruited and they are made to enact the central message: By refusing to allow principals remove bad teachers, American teacher unions are responsible for American public schools going down the tube. The central message of the film is: Demand an end to job tenure for bad teachers and save America! I looked up Bill Gates’s reaction to the film since I felt that the film itself might not be reliable source of objective information.  Bill Gates has spent a lot of money and time, trying to save American schools and I trust his judgment on the matter. He confirms an key point made in the film: removing the bottom 10% of American teachers would cause average performance of American kids to be at the same level as the best performing industrialized countries. The bottom line is: if you ever need to make an effective promotional film for your cause, Davis Guggenheim is the man to hire for it. He is the master what I henceforth shall call “docu-promotions.” Davis convinces you given the historical record so far, it is foolish to Waiting for Superman to fix American schools. You need to become active yourself in demand change for secure the economic future of America.

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Peter

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