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Students go to school in the mornings, make a film in the afternoons

January 24, 2012

This morning, a colleague drew my attention to an interesting report (5:34) that aired on TV1 news last night (Monday 23 January). It was about a group of five New Zealand students at Hamilton Boys High School (Juan Robertson, Robin Kuyper, Nathaniel Watson, David Robinson and Simon Lillis) who attended school for just three hours a day last year so they could devote their afternoons to completing a short film. They recently uploaded the finished 16 minute result to YouTube (embedded below), and promoted it through a website about the making of the film, a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed (follow @PluealFilms).

According to their promotional website, the film is “[s]et in a futuristic, dystopian society where everyone is forced to be equal, the short follows one man as he attempts to go beyond the heavily enforced restrictions of such a world”. Citizens of this near-future society are constrained by the “2014 Uniformity Act, section #A7”, which states, in part, that

“…attempting, in any manner, to educate one’s self or others in any concepts not outlined in s.A2 (‘Equality of Individuals and Accepted Levels of Ability’) is prohibited…”

Clearly, these students didn’t wanted to be limited by what they could learn through formal education alone. As the TV1 reporter noted: “the boys decide that school was getting in the way”. So, working at home, they set about teaching themselves what they needed to know in order to achieve what they wanted to do. As the director, Juan Robertson (17) said, “I’m creating things, I’m doing what I enjoy, and I’m learning a lot”. Fortunately, they had the support of their parents and progressive teachers, who accommodated the students so that they could combine formal and informal education. Their abilities were recognized, and they were not limited by normal expectations and “accepted levels of ability”. The film is an amazing accomplishment. Oh, and their high school results were excellent, too.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2012 4:39 am

    Seriously impressive, thanks for sharing!

  2. January 25, 2012 6:30 pm

    There’s no mystery why teens are drawn to dystopian stories — we’ve messed up our world pretty bad and it’s up to them to save it. Seeing thoughtful, compelling creative works like this make me more hopeful that they will. This should go viral!

    Thanks so much for promoting this short film, and thanks to Brainysmurf for pointing me this way.

    • Mark McGuire permalink
      January 25, 2012 8:41 pm

      Yes, the next generation has a lot on its plate to deal with. Efforts like this show that young people are more capable and creative than we often think. I’m impressed that the these students’ siblings, parents, teachers (and, I assume school administrators) all collaborated to create the conditions that enabled them to peruse their passion. How pleasing that their trust, support, and flexibility was rewarded with such impressive results!

  3. Max Ugaz permalink
    January 26, 2012 8:53 pm

    Mark Prensky says today´s education is bifurcating quickly in (i) school (credentials) and (ii) after school (21st century learning). The last one is more exciting, pulled by them and is about future learning, the stuff they know they need ( Thanks for sharing this great proof of concept! #cck12

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