Alex Bell is a friend of Whole Education and attended our most recent annual conference. Here he blogs about a new project he is involved with – an international film festival featuring films looking at education at our current moment in history.
A few years ago, after decades as a school leader and then as a freelancer in global education, I felt compelled to start making a documentary film on how I felt education could, and should, be.
School Is Yesterday. This Is School sets out to outline the mistakes of the past and also offer a tangible glimpse of a hopeful future.
Although the complete film is yet to be finished, the trailer reached the attention of a group of dedicated education organisations in the USA. In April this year, I was invited to join them to use the medium of a documentary film festival to widen the debate on the state of education. And to a wider audience than the usual education insiders like me.
The Covid-19 pandemic and up-ending of the regular school experience for close to 2 billion young people world-wide meant that a whole generation of families were seeing their child’s experience of learning, or lack of learning, within the family home. They had more ‘skin in the game’ than ever before.
As if the effects of a global pandemic weren’t enough, then many communities in the US, and the world over have been confronting the insidious realities of systemic racism and also grappling with how it shows up in schools.
2020 truly felt like the year when these two scourges collided, creating a sense of urgency in many of us to act.
But, to make real lasting change, to have real profound impact, we needed to bring a greater number of people with us. And we knew that there was no better way than through the power of story.
Stories bring families and communities together. They allow his to confront our past, examine our present and build hope and possibility for our future.
Running from 6th to 27th October, we invite you to sign up now (link) and to invite your widest possible communities and networks to do the same.
At the website you’ll find details of all 22 films, never shown together and some shown for the first time ever anywhere in the world. All for free. And all showing schools ‘doing things differently’ in some way. All have been carefully selected to show how education could, and should, be.
We invite you to set up family, staff-wide, whole school and community online watch-parties and then post about them on the festival’s Facebook page.
You’ll also find a range of resources to help everyone – educators, families, students and community members – take action locally and to build momentum for positive school change worlwide.
Just like tackling the Covid pandemic, not one of us can stand by and miss our chance to know that we were the generation who took on systemic racism and also brought about positive, lasting school change for all, in so many ways.
So, please do sign up. Please do gather others. Please do join us this October for three weeks of life-changing films and stories. This truly Is Our Chance.
Alex Bell is co-founder and curator of the This Is Our Chance film festival and a leadership and innovation coach (find out more).