For anyone remotely interested in joining the education system, or for even those who care a modicum about the well being of our nation’s children, go out and see this documentary. While not one who gets a kick out of this particular genre of film, I like to think I have what it takes to realize Waiting For Superman‘s overall importance.
Here we have an eye-opener of a documentary; no surprise considering it was directed by Davis Guggenheim, the same man who brought us An Inconvenient Truth. Only this time, instead of a politician who may be speaking with ulterior motives that involve another agenda, Waiting For Superman delivers a startling look into the education system, how it’s failing and the effect that is having on children and our society. What may or may not come as a surprise is the fact that a great many children want to learn, dedicating themselves to achieve a proper education, yet all the while being denied one. It’s certainly enlightening; examining oneself if you’re in school, complaining about the workload, and all the while there are others who could give anything to have that same assignment.
While the film heavily focuses on school children, as well it should, time is taken to examine teachers. A good teacher is a rare commodity; they have relatively thankless jobs, jobs that revolve around inspiring and educating future generations. To be a teacher, as any teacher will tell you, is no easy feat, but instead quite the opposite. This is why there are so many bad teachers, because to teach poorly is easy, requiring little effort on the instructor’s part, but to teach with excellence is another matter altogether. You know when you’ve had a great teacher and you know when you’ve had a bad one; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to differentiate between the two.
Guggenheim succeeds in showing the failing system that so many have unfortunately fallen victim to, but focusing on a few families who have been directly affected. These families and their children are not “special” in the stereotypical sense, they are people like you and me with the only real difference being that fate has been less kind to them. That being the case, occasionally you have happy endings, but not everyone is destined to get what they want, or better put, deserve. In a quest to be accepted into a prestigious school, their only hope lies in chance, as they are forced to enter a lottery, a lottery that might determine the rest of their natural born lives.
Waiting For Superman is refreshing in its honesty. The sheer reality that bores down on a great many underprivileged children comes to full light; the statistics presented are downright disheartening and somewhat scary. The film is powerful and as dramatic as you might envision such a documentary being, with heart-wrenching moments as you’re witness to true human grief. Education is important, something that many take for granted. The lesson to be learned here is that while children are being failed left and right, there is still hope. There still remains time for something to be done, for a change to take place; Waiting For Superman is the first step to that very change.