Free To Learn: A Documentary


 

In the hour long free documentary, Free To Learn, the filmmakers Jeff Root & Bhawin Suchak gave their audience a “fly on the wall” perspective on how kids learn when adults don’t impose a curriculum on them them to.

This was the official website for the documentary when it was first released.
Content is from the site's 2004 archived pages as well as from other sources.

A truly inspiring glimpse into our abilities to self educate.

 

Free to Learn takes an intimate look at the daily lives of students attending The Free School in Albany, New York. For over thirty years in perhaps the most radical experiment in American education, this small inner-city alternative school has offered its students complete freedom over their learning. There are no formal rules, no mandatory classes, no tests or homework and decisions are made democratically by students and teachers.

Free to Learn invites us to reconsider our most romantic ideals and our deepest concerns about education, as we follow a handful of children at this unique school on a journey, unescorted, to meet the challenges of hope, acceptance, loss, friendship, conflict, and the difficult task of deciding, for themselves, what to do with each day.

About the Movie

Free to Learn is a 70 minute documentary that offers a "fly on the wall" perspective of the daily happenings at The Free School in Albany, New York. Like many of today's radical and democratic schools, The Free School expects children to decide for themselves how to spend their days.

The Free School, however, is unique in that it transcends obstacles that prevent similar schools from reaching a economically and racially diverse range of students and operates in the heart of an inner-city neighborhood.

For over thirty years in perhaps the most radical experiment in American education, this small inner-city alternative school has offered its students complete freedom over their learning. There are no mandatory classes, no grades, tests, or homework, and rules are generally avoided. As a last resort, rules are created democratically by students and teachers, often at the prompting of a student. At a time when our educators are mandated to march forward with no child left behind, the students of the Free School, many of whom would have fallen through the cracks of today's failing public school system, have managed to slip out of education's back door and have run away free.

Free to Learn follows a handful of these children courageously meeting the daily challenges of hope, acceptance, loss, friendship, conflict, and the difficult task of deciding, for themselves, what to do with each day.

 



Free to Learn: A Radical Experiment in Education from Isaac Graves on Vimeo.

 

 



Albany Free School

 

Free to Learn is a documentary that offers a perspective of the daily happenings at The Free School in Albany, New York.

Like many of today's radical and democratic schools, The Free School expects children to decide for themselves how to spend their days.

The Free School, however, is unique in that it transcends obstacles that prevent similar schools from reaching a economically and racially diverse range of students and operates in the heart of a city.

For over thirty years in perhaps the most radical experiment in American education, this small inner-city alternative school has offered its students complete freedom over their learning.

There are no mandatory classes, no grades, tests, or homework, and rules are generally avoided. As a last resort, rules are created democratically by students and teachers, often at the prompting of a student.

 

 



 

your passion!

You have general interests in exploring new ideas and are curious about an option for schooling that is humanistic and based on principals of freedom.

Free to Learn offers a window from which to view the secret lives of children who are unplugged from the many rules of the adult world. Free to Learn gently invites you to reconsider your long held assumptions about how and why children learn.

order your personal copy of the DVD here and begin rethinking our schools, if you like what you see, share your copy with friends.

 

your passion!

You are an activists, social worker, community organizer, or parent who works with public schools through programs that empower specific demographics of youth that our public schools are failing.

Borrow some of these powerful radical teaching methods and community building techniques to enhance your program. Even better, Free to learn encourages you to consider an alternative to working within the system and rocking the boat of public education: Jump ship and grow your own community. Add your unique vision and skills and do what others like you have done- create your own inovative, humanistic alternatives to mainstream public education.

Take the first step towards building an alternative learning community that meets your people's needs by hosting a screening in your neighborhood. Screenings of Free to Learn have been used to help form groups to launch new ideas. the Brooklyn Free School is a great example of this.

Order a copy here or contact us (Jeff and Bhawin)- freeschooldoc@gmail.com

 

your passion!

You are a hip mama, d.i.y. hacker, anarchist parent, independent thinker, home schooler, or un schooler who is not satisfied with educational options for children in your community.

Viewing Free to Learn will affirm your beliefs that children are natural born learners. This documentary is a powerful tool for bringing together like-minded families, teachers, community workers, and activists to create their own network of culture and support. Free to Learn is a very effective dialouge started and a screening in your neighborhood is a great first step to break the ice so your group can begin creating its shared vision.

Screenings of Free to Learn have been used to help form groups who go on to launch new ideas. the Brooklyn Free School is a great example of this.

Order a copy here or contact us (Jeff and Bhawin)- freeschooldoc@gmail.com for help organizing and hosting a screening in your neck of the woods.

 



Host a Screening

We want to work with you and make a screening Free to Learn in your community possible. Please contact us with any ideas, concerns, or questions.

-download promotional flyers, and resources about Free Schools (coming soon).

-if you will be charging at the door for a purpose other than starting a school, please check with us.

-check with us about promotion, we may suggest groups to partner with or want to let our friends in your city know about the screening.

Cost of a "screening" copy

Large Institutions (Universities, Colleges, etc.)

We ask that you purchase an instiutional copy, study guides and other resources are available, you can find out more here.

Nonprofits (small schools, collectives, community organizers, film series, etc.)

If you don't have the budget please DON'T purchase an institutional copy.

 

 



 

NEWS UPDATES

June 2004:

The "work in progress" screening of FREE TO LEARN at the Spectrum was a great sucsess. We sold out their largest theater and, unfortunately, had to turn some people away. Thanks to all that came and those that helped make it happen.

 

+++++

 

May 2004:

A Speical Benefit Screening of FREE TO LEARN at the Spectrum 8 Theaters (www.spectrum8.com) in Albany, NY. Sunday 5/23 6:45p.m. $10.

(Thanks to Bree for reminding us to post this!)

 

+++++

 

March 2004:

We've finally finished a final cut of the movie and have begun to apply to film festivals.

 

FreeSchoolMovie.com