“Schooled” – film on alternative schooling system

The Sudbury Valley School system, started in Massachusetts in 1968, is one of the more pre-eminent and well-known forms of alternative school systems in the world. In the core of the Sudbury Valley system is democracy in education: students and staff are all given the right to vote on issues in the school that affect them – from school lunches to changes in rules. There are also no compulsory sessions, classes, or subjects; instead, the students take their own initiative in deciding what they want to learn, when and how they want to learn it (much like unschooling, just with a structural base). Age groups are mixed and often the students also act as teachers to their peers.

The Sudbury Valley system is in place in North America, some parts of Europe, Israel, and Australia, though it hasn’t really taken off elsewhere. This could be due to different cultural and societal expectations on the purpose of schooling and education. Imagine if Malaysian students were allowed to decide what they wanted to learn, and didn’t have to do exams if they didn’t want to! I would personally love it, but the rest of the country may degenerate into confused chaos as it’s completely the opposite of what we’re used to.

Part of overcoming such barriers is to experience the Sudbury Valley system for ourselves. If we’re not lucky enough to get to visit a school, though, there is another way: watching the film Schooled.

Schooled showcases the journey of Fred, a school teacher facing plenty of problems both in his personal and professional life. To resolve his crisis, he goes out to discover alternatives, and stumbles upon a Sudbury Valley school. The sheer difference of systems shocks him into reevaluating his perspectives and goals.

The film has received positive feedback from the Alternative Education Resource Organisation, the key worldwide organisation for alternative and democratic schooling, as well as other educators and past Sudbury Valley students. Screenings have been held around the US, Australia, Sweden, and Canada.

To celebrate its launch, the people at Schooled are offering special discounts and free offers for every DVD sold on Wednesday, October 15 (Launch Day). The DVD normally costs $25, but for Launch Day there will be a 20% discount as well as a choice of goodies related to alternative education or to Hollywood.

I haven’t had the chance to see the movie yet, but if I do I’ll post a review. This should be interesting – there have been a lot of films about teachers and schools, but not many (if any) dealing with a real-world alternative system. Will this increase awareness and acceptance for alternative systems? Let’s see.

(thanks Erin!)

Now Hiring: Press & Partnerships Officer, YOUTH ’09

If you are good with people and connections, and would like to get involved in something for three months, take this opportunity to apply for the role of Press & Partnerships Officer for YOUTH ’09, the second in a series of annual youth festivals organised by YouthMalaysia.

According to Khailee, who is a main player in YouthMalaysia (and various other projects) alongside founder Joel Neoh, this role involves liasing with media partners to handle pre- and post-event publicity and coverage, as well as liasing with program partners that are presenting events at YOUTH ’09. To qualify:

  • You have excellent spoken and written skills in English.
  • You possess outgoing, social, positive, youthful energy.
  • You possess your own transportation
  • You must be available full-time from 15th October till 31st January
  • You are willing to learn, do whatever it takes to MASTER this role
  • Must be not older than 30 years old (this is a youth-for-youths event after all)

Experience in media and public relations is a bonus, but not necessary.

If you’re interested, send your CV to Khailee at khailee@youthmalaysia.com by the 18th of October 2008.

    Be at the 2008 Global Youth Forum in Armenia – here’s how

    My sister alerted me to ASTRO’s competition to send a young Malaysian to the 2008 Global Youth Forum:

    We are banking on you, the country’s youth population, to generate fresh and innovative ideas to win a berth at this year’s United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) Global Youth Forum to be held from 21 – 24 October in Armenia! This competition, The Malaysian Chapter, is open to all Malaysian youths aged 18 – 25 years (individual or two members per team), who would have to select one or incorporate all of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals in a written document, a 3 – 5 minute video, or an active electronic presentation demonstrating their strategies, plans and solutions in addressing and achieving these goals.

    The Eight UN Millennium Development Goals are:

    1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
    2. Achieve universal primary education
    3. Promote gender equality and empower women
    4. Reduce child mortality
    5. Improve maternal health
    6. Combat HIV / AIDS, malaria and other diseases
    7. Ensure environmental sustainability
    8. Develop a global partnership for development

    If your entry is selected, we will then award you and/or your team a paid trip to participate and showcase your work at the 2008 UN GAID Global Youth Forum in Armenia!

    So hurry, think of how you can save the world today. And together, we could make a difference!

    Let’s make Malaysia proud! Enter THE MALAYSIAN CHAPTER of the UN GAID Global Youth Forum 2008, TODAY!

    Entries* must be submitted together with the Registration Form via post to the following address or email to yd@astro.com.my and all Contest entries must reach Astro on or before 11.59pm on the 25th September 2008 to be eligible for the contest.

    *Maximum file size 10MB

    Astro Youth Dynamics Division
    Astro Entertainment Sdn Bhd
    Ground Floor Wisma Penyayang
    No 6 Jalan Equine
    Taman Equine Bandar Putra Permai
    43300 Seri Kembangan
    Selangor,
    Malaysia

    I’m glad that companies like ASTRO are completely on board in supporting young people. This is a great initiative (don’t get scared off from “Armenia”) and I truly encourage everyone to give this a go.

    Nat.Geo Glimpse Correspondents – Get Published & Paid While Studying Abroad

    Are you studying abroad between August and December this year? Do you have experience in writing, photography, or video? Here’s your chance to make use of your experiences and skills – and become famous internationally.

    Glimpse

    National Geographic has launched the Glimpse Correspondents Program, whereby students aged 18-30 who are studying abroad for at least 10 weeks will be able to tell their stories of their experiences for publication in the National Geographic Glimpse magazine. Selected participants will also receive a $600 stipend and a professional editor to help them through the process.

    Applications open mid-May, but you can sign up to express your interest. Those of you in The Star – BRATs that are studying abroad, I suggest you investigate this as well.