GOOD MORNING MISSION HILL – The Freedom To Teach, The Freedom To Learn
A reaction against the latest public school reforms is brewing, with parents all over the country opting out of the 2014 testing cycle. Many more are critical of the narrowing of the curriculum to conform to what will be measured via those tests. Are there other ways public schools can develop the next generation of creative problem solvers and help diminish social and economic inequalities?
What about giving teachers the freedom and support to teach meaningfully, and students the freedom to learn in ways that engage them at all levels? Mission Hill School grew up in Boston’s Roxbury district, a so-called “zone of special interest” where racial tensions have erupted in the past. A neighborhood school that parents can choose, it was founded by noted educator Deborah Meier in 1997, as a Pilot School. That status, developed jointly by Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers’ Union gives it more autonomy than most Boston public schools. Ms. Meier’s thoughts on education and democracy frame the film’s portrait of the school 15 years in.
A big part of the dynamic here relates to teachers feeling strong ownership of their school and their teaching. The word “family” is used over and over again at Mission Hill for good reason. One teacher describes the structure as “not top down or bottom up, but middle out”. These teachers can take the time they consider necessary to help children develop socially and emotionally, or to delve deeply into a subject. Together with the entire school staff they democratically decide most aspects of school life, and trust each other enough to be “critical friends.”
Intimately filmed over the course of one year, using the voices of staff and alumni, we see the relationship between what the children are doing, and the staff’s intentions. Good Morning Mission Hill will add to viewers’ understanding of how public schools can meet the challenges of our times in creative, individualized, and equitable ways.
Expanding on their internet series, A Year At Mission Hill, in GOOD MORNING MISSION HILL the filmmakers of AUGUST TO JUNE: Bringing Life To School, give us an intimate look at the inner workings of a successful urban school, to further inspire our thinking about what meaningful education entails. Click here for information on purchasing a DVD that includes both A Year At Mission Hill and GOOD MORNING MISSION HILL!