Welcome to the new series where we provide a look at what our education system in the United States is like compared to the rest of the world: In Perspective. By understanding where the United States’ education system (K-12 as well as higher education) stands in comparison to the rest of the world, we are able develop both a more appreciative attitude and critical eye on the system and where it is heading. To kick off the series, here are three documentaries that provide an interesting look at what our education system:

1. 2 Million Minutes (2008)
One of the first educational documentaries that I have ever watched, 2 Million Minutes talks about how six different students around the world spend their two million minutes, the equivalent to four years in high school. This documentary immediately opened up my perspective in high school and made me really appreciating what resources and experiences I have in America, compared to the students in the two other countries featured in the film, China and India. Each talks about the stresses they face as well as their expectations for the future.


2. A Race to Nowhere (2009)
The different perspective on a similar topic in 2 Million Minutes, A Race to Nowhere looks at the stresses of the American education system and the expectation of high achievement. Derived from a personal story, the director Vicki Abeles learns that her middle-school daughter was experiencing physical sickness from pressures at school, academic work, and extracurricular activities. This catalyst for the movie jump starts a conversation the director has with many students and parents about the stresses that American children are facing in fast-paced, high performance world they are living in.


3. Waiting for ‘Superman’ (2010)
The most acclaimed of the three movie, Waiting for ‘Superman’ by movie director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) gives a look into the failures of the American public education system, the development of charter schools, and the attempt to figure out who is truly benefiting from this system. The film follows several students and their families as they test their luck in their attempt to get accepted into a charter school through a lottery system and out of their failing public high schools.

  What do you think of these documentaries? Have any additional documentaries to suggest? Comment below!

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