Class Dismissed Movie Review

I’m watching Class Dismissed: A film about learning outside the classroom. I’ve veered away from my Netflix habit to preview this movie for an upcoming screening opportunities here in South Carolina. This is a must-see film for every homeschooler and prospective homeschooler.
Disclosure note: I have not been compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Class Dismissed Movie Review

The documentary follows one family as they decide to start homeschooling. Starting with just considering homeschooling as a possibility — To the day they make the decision to withdraw from the public school system –Through several months of trying out various homeschooling methods and styles. They settle into their own rhythm and style that fits their family best.

They wrestle with the basic premise of how learning works. They’ve been ingrained in the mindset that children must be forced to learn. They struggle with that initial weight of responsibility and the doubts that are very common among new homeschoolers. How do you make sure that your student learns everything they need and what happens if they don’t? They doubt themselves as they try out various methods, even enrolling briefly in a school-at-home charter program.

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But, homeschooling is an alternative approach to education with the mindset that children are natural learners. The weight of responsibility actually belongs to the child. They don’t need to be forced to learn or told what to learn. You can see this shift as the parents and children begin to trust themselves.

“You have to trust that your child will learn what they need to learn. That they are capable. And that requires a shift in your own perception of human nature.” ~Scott Noelle (parenting coach)

Experienced homeschoolers and education experts expand on what home education is all about. There’s a false security when we’re “doing homework” and covering a certain amount of material in the curriculum. What happens when you let go of those securities to let the learner direct their own learning and follow their own interests? Homeschooling has a lot of unknowns that the featured family has to figure out for themselves.

The mother (Rachel) says in the end that she has tripped and stumbled and tried a lot of things. But, that’s really a universal experience. She says, “Many of us start thinking we’re homeschooling because we’re going to give this great education to our children. But, once you get into it, you realize that it’s much more of a lifestyle.”

Talking Points about Learning Outside the Classroom

1. Honest evaluation of educational options. Let’s be honest that there are some problems with the educational system we currently have in America. This movie addresses some of the issues as reasons why parents are choosing to homeschool. Homeschooling is a valid option for getting a quality education.

Education is ripe for a change. We need innovation and reform in all schools, because homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Could the personalized approach of homeschooling help change the paradigm for everyone? That’s worth talking about!

  • What’s the foundation of our education system?
  • What’s the goal of education?
  • Is learning a product or a process?

2. Weight of responsibility actually belongs to the learner. That initial decision to homeschool is often a bit scary. The weight of responsibility feels heavy and the path forward isn’t clear. Learning to trust yourself to figure it out and learning to trust your child is actually going to learn–is part of the process.

In the movie, it takes a year and a half for the older daughter to gather momentum on her own passions and goals. She comes to this realization. “We were expecting ‘This is what you do now’…and it never came. So we had to take that responsibility on ourselves.”

Let’s talk about our approach to education: Children must be forced to learn vs. Children are natural learners. Even if we put them thru a time of forced learning, at some point the responsibility still shifts back to the individual. Certainly you’ve met someone in their 20’s (or older) who’s “finding themselves”. That’s because learning doesn’t stop and figuring what’s next is a lifelong process.

  • How do you know if they’re progressing without the structure of school?
  • What do you do about the student’s weak points?
  • What happens when they get into the “real world”?

People should be free to find or make for themselves the kinds of education experiences they want their children to have. ~John Holt

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3. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. School at home doesn’t work. But, each homeschool style that does work is different for everyone. You have to go through trial and error to figure out what works for your family. Homeschooling works. Mistakes and all…it still works.

In the movie, there was a homeschool counselor who came to visit. Here in South Carolina, we have accountability associations that serve a similar capacity. Homeschoolers can get professional advice and personal encouragement from their association director. Talking about it helps you figure out what works for your family.

It’s natural to have doubts. But, nobody knows your child better than their parent. Nobody has their best interest at heart quite like you do. You will figure it out–and find your own style. You’ll figure out social networking and support too. It takes time.

  • What defines success or failure as a homeschool parent?
  • What doors of opportunity are available after homeschooling?
  • What’s the best for your child?

Where You Can Watch: Class Dismissed

I think this is such a great movie for every homeschooler, anyone considering homeschooling…or anyone who knows a homeschooler. It explains so much about homeschooling in a matter-of-fact way–that isn’t elitist either. There’s so much packed into the movie and every time I rewatch it, there’s something else I didn’t catch before. Take my word for it–it’s great and you’ve got to see it for yourself!

The movie is available on DVD and streaming online directly from the filmmakers. You can purchase in 3-packs or 5-packs to give away extra copies. Screening packs are available so you can schedule your own showing for your homeschool group. I think you’ll agree that everyone needs to see this film!

Have you seen Class Dismissed?
What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments.

Back to my Netflix addiction–Watch This too:
Flight of the Butterflies
About Kim Andrysczyk

Homeschool veteran, Association Director, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and accidental blogger. I'm here to encourage you thru the tough times and inspire you toward excellence. If I can make it, so can you!


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