For Educators

Every teacher and prospective teacher should watch and discuss ‘Schooling the World.’ – Bill Bigelow, Rethinking Schools
TOK coverFrom the Harvard Graduate School of Education to the Kativik School District in Nunavik (Northern Quebec), teachers are finding that Schooling the World gets their students thinking deeply, questioning assumptions, and engaging in (sometimes heated!) discussion about the relationships between education, poverty, globalization, culture, and environment.

The film is recommended for use in secondary schools in the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge textbook published by Oxford University Press. It is being used in graduate and undergraduate departments of education, anthropology, ethnic studies, environmental science, sustainability studies, and international development, in secondary school social studies and science classrooms, by homeschooling and unschooling groups, and by international service learning programs.

We invite teachers, students, and independent learners to share their thoughts and questions in the comment space below.



Please check out the videos, books, films, articles, and research in our Resources library and our frequently asked questions page as well as the additional resources below.

Discussion guide for the film

Go deeper. Our Discussion Guide has 50 beautifully illustrated pages of questions, ideas for discussion, facts and information, and group and individual activities that can be adapted for middle school, high school, college, and adult professional development groups. Ideas for filmmaking projects, fiction writing, visual art, anthropology research, nature observation, and more.  Recommended by International Baccalaureate schools.

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school of life

A beautiful full-color PDF based on interviews conducted by Kelley Lynch and Alison Judd among a community of Borana pastoralists in southern Ethiopia. The focus of the interviews was education. They confirm that “…just because a child doesn’t sit in a classroom it doesn’t mean they are being wasted. Nor does it mean they are not learning. A school education is not the only education that matters ….” A detailed and respectful portrait of how one community navigates tradition and change.

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learning to read the world through other eyes

A free online college-level curriculum in critical literacy and indigenous perspectives on education and development, “Through Other Eyes” was developed by a partnership between the Centre for Development Education Research (Institute of Education, University of London), University of Sao Paulo, University of Canterbury (Aotearoa/New Zealand), and Survival International. The curriculum can be used for professional development or the resources available could be adapted for use by college or secondary school students. Contains a fascinating video library of interviews with indigenous leaders and educators which will challenge students’ assumptions about education and development from the perspective of the indigenous people on the receiving end of education “aid.”

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“there you go!”

This short animated video written by Oren Ginzburg and narrated by actor and comedian David Mitchell give a satirical view of the real impacts of “sustainable development” on tribal peoples.  A brief and humorous way to introduce young people to the complicated consequences of international “aid” around the world.  Hosted by Survival International, this page provides additional facts and information about the issues.

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heads up

The “HEADS UP” tool was developed by Professor Vanessa de Oliveira, professor of global education at the University of Oulu in Finland and co-creator of the “Through Other Eyes” curriculum. Its goal is to help students think more deeply about the “(often ignored) connection between our benevolent intentions to stop harm and our systemic complicity in harm in relation to poverty interventions…Addressing questions of justice and inequality in educational research requires a deep understanding of the social, economic and historical forces that connect us to one another and of the difficulties of intervening in complex and dynamic systems.” HEADS UP gives students an important set of questions to ask about any proposed aid intervention.

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progress can kill

For those who would like to explore the unanticipated consequences of development in more detail, Survival International’s in-depth report on the health impacts of “progress” on tribal peoples is an important resource.  Full of statistics on malnutrition, disease, mental health, addiction, and suicide among indigenous populations as they are moved off their traditional lands, away from traditional forms of knowledge and sustenance, and into modernized lifestyles.

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“Every teacher and prospective teacher should watch and discuss Schooling the World.”   – Bill Bigelow, Rethinking Schools

“An important and fascinating movie.”   –  Sir Ken Robinson, educator, author, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

“Poignant and deeply insightful, this is a must-see film for anyone interested in the meaningful upbringing of children and the future of human civilization.
– Nosheen Ali, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeleyy

“Painful, provocative, and oddly exhilarating.”   – Paul Campbell,  International Baccalaureate / IB Americas

“Powerful, effective, direct, clear… and at the same time poetic, subtle, delicate, tender.”   – Gustavo Esteva,  Universidad de la Tierra, Oaxaca, Mexico

“Stunning! I couldn’t wait to show it to my students. It carries a compelling message to those of us here in a developing nation that is struggling against so many of the same issues portrayed here.  – Henry Ferguson, teacher at American International School of Mozambique

“If only I still had students… This is one of the days I wish I hadn’t stopped active teaching…  This is one of the teaching and learning opportunities for my English class I would have certainly grasped with my students to make them reflect on school and learning.”  – Sigi Jakob, former teacher and education blogger

“A film of profound insights and the quest for hope in the thick of much violence by mainstream cultures against the marginalized and the silenced peoples of the world …   Challenging, courageous and thought provoking.”   – Dr. Madhu Suri Prakash, Professor of Education Philosophy, Pennsylvania State University

“Wow. Incredible. I teach these texts and critical events to my highly privileged college students, and at first they are skeptical. This is so much more powerful… Visually, also  stunning.”  –  Kirsten Olsen, educator and author, Wounded By School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning

“Having been involved in several international linkage projects, I strongly believe Schooling the World should be obligatory viewing for international development agencies who send out young people to ‘educate’ the other world. The documentary shatters the myth that we cannot learn from developing countries and that our education system is the best.  It should also be viewed by decision makers in the developing world who think that everything ‘foreign’ is better. Having worked in China for nearly 20 years I am appalled to see how we are producing thousands and thousands of business managers with a western outlook, who will ultimately hit a dead end, without the jobs they built their dreams on, and thus produce a frustrated mass of population. This documentary asserts what I believe passionately –– that our world is an interesting place to live because of the diversity of culture and heritage. It would be less of a burden if we could accept this diversity as a sane way of life.”  –  Dr. Jayanta Guha,  Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences, University of  Québec

“A film recommended by one of my students (thank you, Reese) gave me not only an hour of beautiful and disturbing images but also a lot of reflections on the knowledge that education gives — and takes away.  The central argument of the film is fairly straightforward:  that standardized western education has destroyed the connection of younger generations with their families and cultures, devalued the knowledge passed down within their cultures, and prepared children for life in an urban western context, largely as workers and consumers.  What makes the film powerful is that it gives a glimpse what is being lost — or stamped out deliberately in order to “civilize” and integrate populations, supposedly for their own good.  It leaves, lingering in the eye and mind, images of other places, other people, other cultures.

“The film would provide a fine class, exposing students to other ways of living and knowing.  Like many other TOK (“Theory of Knowledge”) teachers, I have often led students through discussions of what knowledge they think is valued in their school systems, and what they learn in school that is not overtly part of any curriculum.  Education is not accidental and not neutral ….  Through exposing them to different ways we can help them see their own, and within a large context of human possibilities.”    – Eileen Dombrowski, International Baccalaureate teacher and author, International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge Course Companion

  1. liyingchiuliyingchiu11-21-2011

    It is an awesome film. I like it.

  2. Prashant AgarwalPrashant Agarwal02-03-2012

    I just loved the movie and i couldn’t stop myself from asking the same questions. I thought to share of my thoughts with you .Do click at the below mentioned links to see my articles:-
    What do we Unlearn when we actually learn:
    Should education be like a river or a swimming pool:

  3. Carol BlackCarol Black02-03-2012

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Prashant!

  4. Asara SiddigAsara Siddig07-29-2017

    Very interesting movie. It’s to be viewed by all educators all over the world so they could be leaders of global wake up from this nightmare called “school”

  5. Alice YangAlice Yang05-03-2020

    Thanks so much for sharing. It helps to think education deeply as I am preparing to become a teacher.

  6. Elisabeth YeskoElisabeth Yesko05-29-2020

    Hello Carol,

    Thank you for making this film.
    Gratitude is the only word that I have for its clarity.

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