September 22, 2020

Documentary provides a chance to learn about learning

Most Likely to Succeed premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, focused on potential dangers to the public education system. (Public Domain Photo)

By the mid-1890’s, commercial production of automobiles had just begun. Now, Wellesley High School struggles to offer a sufficient number of parking spaces to senior drivers. If so much has changed in 125 years, then why do most public schools use a system of education designed in 1893?

The critically-acclaimed documentary Most Likely to Succeed highlights this question through expert opinions, graphics, and anecdotes from a technological high school in San Diego, CA. The Wellesley Education Foundation will present this film in November and December at various auditoriums and elementary school gymnasiums around Wellesley.

In an email addressed to Wellesley community members and staff, Superintendent David Lussier invited community members and staff alike to view the educational documentary and join the important conversation that would inevitably follow.

“Rather than promote any particular model or approach, our goal is to provoke, challenge, and perhaps even inspire,” he said in the email.

The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, focuses on technological advances, automation, and income inequality as possibly devastating threats to the public school-educated workforce. It explores alternatives to a system of education that prioritizes memorization over innovation.

Sarah Lu ’16, who has demonstrated interest in how contemporary developments in technology impact individual trajectory, says she approves of the community film screenings.

“It’s really important to cultivate a more creative, altruistic mindset because, after all, we learn so that we can benefit ourselves and each other,” she said.

School districts and universities around the country frequently screen this documentary. Students and critics alike give predominantly positive reviews, and walk away with a new sense of why the system of education requires change.

At times, Wellesley High School seems to occupy a category all-too-close to the types of schools condemned by the documentary. Students, rather than their textbooks, are supposed to be the innovators.

Luckily, though, Wellesley is on the right track—with Evolutions, technology integration efforts, and a plethora of incredible electives, there is no doubt that Wellesley High School maintains an awareness of the innovation it must achieve.

Ted Dintersmith, the executive director of Most Likely to Succeed, put it best when he explained the exceptional need for schools like Wellesley to modernize.

“It’s often much harder to innovate when you’re viewed as successful, as opposed to when you’re viewed as failing,” Dintersmith said. “So I’m really impressed and proud of the deep innovation Wellesley is bringing to its schools, and hope the entire community rallies around these changes as the school district goes from quite good to amazingly great.”

Those eager to attend one of the upcoming showings may register here.

(Rachel Landau ’16, Photo Editor)

 

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