CBC has released an excellent series called This is High School. The 6 part series follows a couple of vice-principals and at a high school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Each episode features 2 students who have various challenges.
While there are many documentaries out there about schools and education what makes this one worthwhile is the fair way it portrays high school, the students and teachers. This is not a series attempting to blame or point out any flaws with education. It simply provides an inside look at just how complex and challenging high school can be for both students and teachers. As you watch, you completely empathize with teachers’ decisions and at the same time appreciate that school does not always work for every student. While you might not agree with every approach and you might wish the students would choose differently, it’s clear the intent of the school is to do right by children. My experience in schools would suggest this is by far the dominant approach most teachers take.
What I think would be valuable would be to watch an episode as a staff and ask these questions:
“What is the purpose of school?”
“Is school designed for everyone?”
“Are there occasions when quitting school might be in the best interest of students?”
“How do we make school meaningful for as many students as possible?”
“What is the role of compliance? Is compliance always required? Should it ever be required?”
While all these questions are pretty universal and worth discussing often, watching a series like this puts these questions in a context that while relatable, is distant enough for one to be objective. I’d love to see a staff, particularly a high school but not necessarily, discuss this together. (Sorry, my US readers, this may not be available to you)