What’s wrong with the American education system? While most documentaries focus on a single issue like bad teachers or ‘no child left behind’, Cracks in the Foundation looks for more complete explanations and solutions.
It’s a two-part project.
The first part is a film aimed at reframing the questions about education – We ask what results we want and then look at all the ingredients that go into getting those results – parents, teachers, diet, psychology, sociology, environment….
The second part of the project is a website with hours of clips, games and other interactive elements with much greater detail separately aimed at teachers, students, principals, politicians and employers, giving them insight on how they might be able to improve their situations. It also includes a forum where professionals can discuss ideas and continually make improvements. The film gets America thinking and the website offers possible solutions.
When we say we want to make our schools “better”, what does that actually mean? It’s like saying you want a “better car”. That could mean more fuel-efficient or beefier acceleration or more spacious so you can carry a huge family and tons of gear or small enough to fit into tiny parking spaces in the city… If you try making a car that does all of these things, you’ll end up with a car that does none of it. So first and most importantly, you have to decide what “better education” means – and the answer is probably different for different communities. So the solution should be different too.
Let’s take Math for example. Stephen Hawking was considered a genius as a direct result of him being incapable of doing the problems that other people do. His physical handicaps prevent him from writing out long formula extrapolations, so he had to turn to thought experiments in an area of Physics that few dealt with before.
Test scores are clearly tumbling all across America, but if you ask employers, that’s not their biggest problem. Employers tend to talk about attitude – recent college grads feel like they can do no wrong and deserve the world without working for it. They need constant supervision because they are “lazy” and don’t take responsibility for their mistakes.
This project is in stark contrast to films like “Waiting for Superman” or “The Lottery” that are nice pieces of drama but focus the blame too simply on one or two issues and provide little help to fix even those.
You can’t just look at sugar and think you know all there is to know about layer cakes. Similarly, you can’t look at any single issue and think you know all there is to know about education. Every neighborhood, every classroom, and every child has different needs that have to be filled. The film explores those ingredients to get you thinking, and the website digs deeper showing things to try, things that have worked and things that have failed. It goes into detail about the science of learning. We don’t pretend to know the perfect solution. We don’t pretend there IS a single perfect solution because every situation is different. But we give you the groundwork to dissect and understand your particular problem, come up with ways of improving your situation, and link you to people, organizations, and publications that can help.