Food for thought

Check out the trailer for the film Waiting for Superman.


15 thoughts on “Food for thought

  1. >I have seen the trailer of this film: 'Waiting for Superman'. It can be found here: believe that this film will give a deeper insight on education as it is around the world – and not just in America. It greatly emphasises the dreams (motivation) of students as "hindered" (possibly?) by the current education system. In a world where equal rights are promoted, are there really equal opportunities for all? Whose responsibility is it for the education of the children? Ours or theirs? Is it the system? Can something be done about it? During the entire PGC in VET course, I have continuously challenged my way of thinking as a teacher by going beyond your limits for the benefits of the students' education. This film/documentary opens eyes about what school really means to students who are not that lucky to be educated – because in the end it all ends in 'luck'.I don't think one should miss viewing this film.

  2. >I've just seen the trailer and the movie seems quite interesting. Unfortunately this is a reality that many schools both in America and outside, are facing. Even though this documentary may be one of the first to highlight the injustices in the school systems I am sure that most of us have seen movies on these lacking educational facilities. It is a shame really! America is such a big country and yet they don't seem to have enough money to educate their youth is quite dubious to me!

  3. >This trailer shows the actual situation in America. What really worries me is the lottery system. The kids get chosen only if their number is drawn, as if all of them are equally intelligent and their is no other criteria to consider! One kid who is highly interested in his personal education development, and another who can't care less about it, stand the same chance of being chosen.I know the problem is the large number of applicants, but the lottery system is a total flop and it's breaking up the whole system. There should be at least a short assessment which every applicant should sit for, and then those achieving the highest marks are chosen. This is quite a serious issue; we are determining the future of these kids through this stupid filtering system as if they were machines waiting to be programmed.

  4. >I have just watched the trailer, thanks to Eleaonora. I agree with Mark the lottery system is worrying indeed but am I wrong in stating that the same system is being applied to Malta as well right now to students who wish to enter into the church schools?I agree that this system is a total time and resource waster. Students should be given the opportunity to study and be given the best education in relation to their school performance and overall commitment to the schooling system.It is useless to give good quality education to someone who is not interested. At the same time to not give proper teaching to a student simply due to financial or social reasons is likewise alarming.In this respect I would go far out as say that the best solution proposed so far, to eliminate such an issue, was given by Plato when he stated that all citizens should be given the same opportunity to study. The selection of the students on who would proceed on the studies or not, relied solely on the students motivation.I will not go as far as say that (as plato put it) the students have to pass some 40 years studying, even though life long learning should be continuously sought.

  5. >I have watched the trailer – and I ll definitely watch the film, as it promises to be a good film.I agree with Mark regarding the lottery system – and I think that David is right in saying that the lottery system is also being applied to Malta when it comes to children entering church schools – the only difference being that if one does not manage to enter a church school in Malta there are other prospects:Private Schools – If the parents are able to pay for the fees chargedGovernment Schools – Which I must say can be quite good schools in some locationsTherefore, our students are not in such dire straits if they are not chosen for a school in the lottery system ….

  6. >Just as Analisa said, I will definitely watch this film after seeing the trailer! The lottery system really worries me as well and I believe it is truly unfair to associate education with sheer luck. By means of this lottery system we are certainly categorising individuals and eventually allocate them different social roles as adults in society so rather than helping pupils in pursuing their dreams for a future job, in the way this system operates, only some lucky students are allowed to pursue their own dreams. Education should be open and available to everyone and it should help an individual to develop his/her personality to the peak of his/her potential. The lottery system would be creating an underclass in society; consisting of those people who were deprived from their education because they were not lucky enough to be chosen; of course as a consequence they will be less literate and then, as the film trailer also says, they will be more prone to engaging in deviant activities, making their situation even worse! (Taking a quote from this trailer: ‘…they will be eight times more likely to go to prison’). We should pay attention in keeping away from this type of filtering system as it is definitely not fair and just. Education is a basic right of every individual and it should not be denied to anyone for whatever reason, especially on the issue of luck… it is simply not acceptable!

  7. >I would like to thank Eleonora for including the site as I was unable to so myself for some reason. I could not post a comment yesterday…so here is mine..I agree with most of you and share my disappointment regarding the lottery system (incidentally there is another film named 'The Lottery', it is worth having a look at the trailer. Also try to see the comments of the director Guggenheim those who are interested).I also want to point out one particular aspect of the film which I thought was quite strange and worth thinking about. The narrator says that Americans rate as top of self confidence and bottom at academics. Although this is very true from what we see happening in the US, I have found this to be strange since I think that if we compare this fact with what happens in European countries (as well as in Malta I hope) I think that having confidence is/should be an accessory to doing well in academic subjects. At least lately these two seem to go hand in hand especially in European/Australian institutions. I hope that I am not mistaken regarding Malta (I do not have statistics though)..what do you think?

  8. >A very interesting video. Thanks for sharing, Eleonora.All children dream at some point or other of what they want to become when they grow up. Society must respect this basic human right and provide fair and equal opportunities to each and every child to succeed. But, unfortunately, reality is very much different from this.The trailer shows the situation in the US, but it could be easily applied to the rest of the world. It is really a matter of luck whether a child is born in a family living in a neighbourhood that has a good school. As shown in the trailer, people know which are the good schools and which are the bad ones. As parents, they strive to send their young ones to the best schools possible.The lottery system shown in the video (and the one referred to by some colleagues locally) is NOT the actual problem. The real problem is that the other schools available provide a very low level of education. These “bad” schools drive parents to seek better schools for their children since they KNOW that this is the best opportunity that exists for their children in education. And the good schools have no option but to set up selection criteria or lotteries to choose their students.Then what needs to be done?Two things:1. The Education system must watchdog and monitor the performance of each and every school. Immediate corrective action must be taken to rectify situations in which a school is identified as being counter productive in terms of student learning and development.2. We as educators must remember at all times that we are shaping and forming the minds of our students. We must therefore tread with attention, and inspire them in the world of learning and knowledge. We can make a difference for them!

  9. >Interesting trailer, indeed. I agree that education is at times counter-productive. I consider myself lucky to have attended Savio College at secondary level. At this school, they give a lot of importance to extra-curricular activities, and that going to school should be fun. MCAST is unfortunately the opposite. Students are perceived as assignment-producing machines. Extra-curricular activities are completely absent and students do not even have anything to do with their time when not having lessons (our rooms are always locked). One comment that stuck me (made by one of the PGC VET lecturers) is that nowadays in education we seem to have this wrong philosophy that the more the merrier. The longer the assignments the better, the longer the syllabi the better… No wonder that our students are completely de-motivated. I think that a lot of talk is done and strategy documents are written, but when it comes to practice, unfortunately, only the philosophy of the few who are in power is put into practice.

  10. >I must agree with Shaz, when she says that being confident should be an accessory to doing well in school, but I find that most of our students are not as confident as they should be. A sure indication of a self-confident student is doing what you thing is right even if others mock you – and I must say that such students are few and far between, as it is more common that our students succumb to peer pressure instead of standing up for what they believe.If you are self-confident you are willing to go that extra mile in order to produce something better – which is another issue we often have with our students. This can be seen when these are just willing to fulfill their pass criteria in an assignment – and they opt not to try achieve their merit and distinction, which just requires a little more thought and effort which most of them are surely capable to doing.

  11. >I found out that there are two main things which contribute to self-confidence. These are self-efficacy and self-esteem. One gains a sense of self-efficacy when s/he sees himself/herself mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas. This is the confidence that, if one learns and works hard in a particular area, s/he'll succeed; and it's this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.This overlaps with the idea of self-esteem, which is a more general sense that one can cope with what's going on in his/her life, and that one has the right to be happy. Partly, this comes from the people one has around, which one might not always be able to control. However, it also comes from the sense that one is behaving virtuously and that one is competent at what s/he is doing.To add to what Analisa was saying, apart from the ideas she mentioned, one could add that being self-confident also means that one is able to admit his/her mistakes and learn from them, and rather than exalting his/her own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible, s/he waits for others to congratulate him/her on his/her accomplishments.

  12. >Although I agree with most of what everyone is saying, I must beg to differ with the following statement made by Ranier:'MCAST is unfortunately the opposite. Students are perceived as assignment-producing machines.'In the institute of art and design we do exactly the opposite! We encourage self expression and self confidence and which is then reflected in their assignment. This attitude is carried throughout the different levels from Foundation cert. to the degree.We try to integrate as much as possible all the aspects of creativity and tease them with enough challenge so as to motivate them into producing good works academically as well as aesthetically and technically.I find that it is better to motivate students and give them consequences that work, rather than try to inhibit their self confidence with threats of failure.I have found an interesting article which is worth having a look at even though it is targeted for parents (many of us are parents after all).

  13. >On the topic of student motivation I agree with both Ranier Bonnici and Shaz, although they seem to have different points of view. But perhaps they are talking about two different aspects. Like Shaz, I feel that particularly in the IAD we do encourage self expression and self confidence in students and this seems to be working when you see that many are well motivated in class and do try to perform as best they can. The staff do their best to give individual attention to each student and support them in their assignments. But Ranier may have a point when he says that numbers seem to be one of the more important factors in our education system. It’s very well to give the opportunity of further education to as many youngsters as possible but this could be counter-productive as obviously the greater the numbers the less personal attention they get. Also space may become more of an issue. For example a common room or some space where students could spend their free time between classes would solve the problem of large numbers of students waiting around in corridors, in itself not a very motivating atmosphere.When a group of students were asked to come up with designs for a specific space just outside IAD, the most popular response from the students were suggestions that this piece of land should be converted into some type of recreational or study area for the students. This probably is a reflection of the view that education is not simply what goes on in the classroom.

  14. >In agreement with Louis Aquilina said the use of the lottery system use in Malta is not an issue children not having an opportunity to get an education. The state provides free schooling for all children, it is even imoised by law that any child of schooling age living in Malta must attend school. As was correctly pointed out the main concern here is why are state schools not sought after as much as church schools. Is it just a perception of quality? an issue of class? or is there a real problem? Of course there are certain issues which can never be resolved, such as for example the fact that state schools would need to take everyone on board thus stretching the resources. If we take MCAST as an exaample, I think that certain private or church run sixth forms might offer more individual attention to their students or have more flexibility about the type of teaching adopted. However since MCAST is run by the state and has no numerus clausus we take everyone on board. ALthough the practice of giving an everyone an opportunity is highly commendable one needs to appreciate that sheer numbers do create stress (as we all very well know!) and have an impact on performance.

  15. >I have watched the trailer, and to be honest I was not aware of the lottery systerm in America.In Malta, we do have free schooling for children, so the actual lottery is really not such a big issue. But the problem in Malta is the quality of education between church schools and state schools. I think this is the real lacuna in Malta. More investment in state schools education should be a priority for any government. This could facilitate our job at Mcast!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s