Swimming around this head of mine are so many mixed feelings and thoughts about this movie. Practically, the time the main character mama puts into changing her kid’s school, she could have homeschooled her kid. In her effort to give her daughter a better education, she helps a motivated teacher begin a new school. She says she is not “doing this” for a cause, but for her kid. Well, then homeschooling would take less time and be more effective than what she was trying to do. With that out of the way, the movie really is a good one. I cried. Many of the speeches and arguments for making the school better is one I often use when talking to people about books and reading.
Last night I told my husband I am going to have to change my little speech I give folks when talking to them about reading because it was used by one of the teacher’s in the movie and I don’t want anyone to think I copied a line in a movie as the bulk of my inspiration. Husband said it’s just the opposite… the movie’s use of the facts gives my research credibility.
I want to back up the main point of this movie, and that’s the fact that we need better schools for kids today. A better education. I’ll go a step further and claim that we need more reading and writing. If kids can read and express themselves, it changes education. Period. Why is reading so important? I’ve been saying this for years and as Viola Davis said in the movie, some states in the U.S. look at reading scores (typically in 4th grade) and use the number of children not reading at level as a factor in determining future prison capacity. 70-80% of children who can’t read drop out of school and 60% of inmates are illiterate or semi-illiterate.
Studied research funded by the Dept. of Education, using over 10,000 studies over a 2 year period gave 2 primary findings… the single most important activity for success in reading is to read aloud to children. And second, the practice of reading aloud should continue through all grades.
Based on the Department of Education’s findings, literature based homeschooling is superior. Public school curriculum can not be literature based because there is no way of measuring on paper the learning that is happening. They need the workbooks and student sheets. I am not knocking the school system, just saying it’s impossible for a school to do what a parent can. I have wanted to be a lot of things over the years, but there’s one thing I know I am good at… and that’s teaching my kids. Lately me and Husband have been talking (me talking and him listening) about what I’ll do when the kids are homeschooling independently or no longer homeschooling and I think I want to be a school teacher. I want to go to a normal college and learn the ins and outs of managing a classroom, then combine it with basics of education which our nation was founded on, but has been long forgotten, and maybe see if I can be of use to the education system. Which is failing kids who need help, fall behind, struggle with dyslexia and ADHD and autism and speech disorders. If I can sneak in read alouds every chance I get, I would love to see what kind of change would happen in those schools.
Currently I am more motivated in my own home to read more. After so many years, homeschooling can become dreary and I forget just how lucky and blessed we are to do this. I get a little bored. I sometimes skim over reading aloud to them and I focus on projects and hands-on stuff and workbooks. All important. But not as important as reading. Nothing can light a fire of excitement, imaginative play, and encourage sparks of inspiration in them as well as when we read books. I will never take that from them, whether they homeschool until the end or go to a school.
The movie is amazing and although about one woman’s struggle, it touches on important matters. Schools fail when teachers can’t teach the way they want to or have a say in what gets taught and how it gets taught. I wish that would happen. In some schools it does. I want to work in those schools one day. Reading good literature and copying on paper that good literature is how many of our first presidents learned to read. They educated themselves. If they could do it as young men, how are kids today losing the confidence in themselves to learn with all the “help” available to them? It’s because we’ve let go of the idea that literature based education is superior. It’s because we’ve replaced great books with dumbed-down twaddle as an excuse for books and worksheets. Viola Davis’s character, Nona, tells one parent who asks how kids are going to do geometry when they can’t even subtract, to which she replies, the kids do what’s expected of them. If no one expects anything form them, that’s what they’ll get. How true. Charlotte Mason based the foundation of her philosophy on this idea.
The movie is okay, but the ideas and inspiration behind the movie are touching. Unless you are a teacher or a homeschooler or super interested in education, it might not move you. I can see how it would be a little boring. My husband would have been bored watching it. It’s a little like a documentary, which I love. So if you are like me, super excited about literacy and reading-based education, you’ll probably love it. Also, I love Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal which made the movie even better.
Have a good week friends.