“Most Likely To Succeed” Kicks Off GlobeDocs Film Festival

"Most Likely To Succeed" panel speaks on the opening night of GlobeDocs

By Alexandra Werner Winslow
BU News Service

The inaugural GlobeDocs Film Festival opened Wednesday with “Most Likely To Succeed,” a documentary about the American educational system. The film drew an enthusiastic crowd of teachers, administrators and parents to Coolidge Corner Theater, with lines stretching around the block.

“Most Likely To Succeed” traces the current educational system back to its origins in the industrial revolution, when the goal of a high school education was to produce a standardized worker.

In a new informational economy, however, the documentary argues that these skills may be obsolete.

Audience waits for the screening of "Most Likely To Succeed" to begin on the opening night of GlobeDocs

Audience waits for the screening of “Most Likely To Succeed” to begin on the opening night of GlobeDocs

To illustrate the kind of skills a new American educational system may need to prioritize, “Most Likely To Succeed” focused on one school in San Diego that scrapped the traditional model in favor of project-based learning.

For teachers like Jen Rosewood, empowering students to be entrepreneurial is a welcome change.

“Standardized testing has just been like a locomotive train barreling down the tracks,” Rosewood said. “Whereas being a high school English teacher, I’ve seen that it’s actually more rigorous for kids to come up with their own ideas.”

Rosewood was attending the film with about a dozen other teachers from Brookline High. They were just a few of the many audience members who broke into spontaneous applause during the screening, prompted by students’ on-screen success.

“What’s clear is the passion that we have locally for education, just like we have for documentary film,” said Linda Pizzutti Henry, GlobeDocs’ executive director, in her introduction of “Most Likely To Succeed.”

Following the documentary screening, Janice Page, Boston Globe film editor, led a panel discussion that was quick to distinguish between the schools featured in “Most Likely To Succeed” and the ones that may be a good fit in Massachusetts.

“We need a diversity of schools, not a single model,” said Jim Peyser, Massachusetts secretary of education. ““Even for people who don’t subscribe to the pedagogy put forward in the movie, however, there’s a sense of urgency we need to create around designing everything from individual schools to larger systems.”

The GlobeDocs Film Festival continues this week with screenings through Sunday of documentaries on topics ranging from acrobats to international diplomacy.

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