Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | December 7, 2014

OFF KLTR Movie Review: Class Dismissed!

class dismissed

Class Dismissed was (in one word) AWESOME!  I thought it was fabulously done.  It was a true, honest portrayal of a family’s journey from school to de-schooling to homeschooling to unschooling.  At the start of the film, which was filmed over the course of two years, their two daughters were 11 and 13.  The girls were burnt out.  They were at school or doing homework all the time.  And their love of learning had been extinguished.  And the older girl’s self confidence had been deflated by all the grades and competition associated with school.  SO the brave mama* pulled her girls out of school!

The movie shows the family actually quit school (they did so mid-year) and then “de-school” which means to decompress/recover from school.  A common statistic is that it takes one month per year of schooling for a child to de-school.  Then, the mom started getting anxious about all the months of de-schooling and signed the girls up for a canned curriculum through the State, complete with money for private lessons and an assigned supervisor.  The canned curriculum experience does NOT go well.  It’s school at home.  Tons of busy work for the girls and administrative paper-work for the mom.  The mom basically assumes all the BS of the school (essentially in exchange for the State paying for her kids’ lesson).  So they quit school-at-home.  And finally, finally they find their way to (drum roll, please) unschooling!  The girls, with time and space to explore their own passions, become self-motivated learners!  The little girl starts a business!  The big girl volunteers at a small aquarium!  And the family lives happily ever after.

NOW, in an effort to be completely transparent, my family unschools.  So I sort of have to love this movie!  It’s a movie about us!  Our big girls went to school and it didn’t work for us.  We flirted with Waldorf Homeschooling…we tried some school at home (that didn’t go well) and finally, we became unschoolers and are now living the dream!  The big girl LOVES to read!  She is hungry for novels!  At the moment, she is particularly interested in the history of fashion and Native Americans!  She learns math through cooking and sewing.  Living and learning, instead of having information poured into her head or pushed down her throat (whichever image of teacher directed learning you prefer!).

Though the girls in the movie were older than my children, our families followed very similar paths.  In fact, it’s a very common path – families quit school, try to recreate school at home, realize that they need a new model of education, and find their way to freedom:  unschooling.  The frequency with which this path is followed is likely due to the common misconception that school is a prerequisite for learning.  But that’s false.  (Read John Holt – the grandfather of unschooling).  Homeschooling does not have to be school at home!  It’s so much more…it’s a lifestyle.

So the movie is so worth watching.  If you are considering homeschooling, it will give you a taste of the unschooling lifestyle that can be yours – when you make the choice to take your family’s learning out of school and into your home and your community!  The movie shows, in words and pictures, but most clearly in the girls’ faces, the transformation that occurred when they were allowed to follow their own interests, to direct their own learning (and their own lives!).

So, to conclude (in three words):  see the movie!!

*An interesting twist to this movie is that the girls live with their mom and step-dad full time, but dad is totally in the picture and on-board with the journey!  The family is remarkable.

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