Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Posts Tagged ‘“Superman”’

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Early Ed Watch Q&A

Yesterday on Early Ed Watch, a blog about early education from the New American Foundation, Lisa Guernsey, the director of the foundation’s early education initiative, published a Q&A that she did with me on early education, my new book, the Harlem Children’s Zone, and “Waiting for ‘Superman,'” among other topics. An excerpt:

I’m working on a new book that has me back out visiting a lot of schools, and I’m interested in the so-called non-cognitive aspects of persistent poverty and educational opportunities that help people escape from poverty.  I’m looking at how – both at the preschool level and also the high school level – interventions may focus on aspects of character or personality or executive function. For me personally that’s the most interesting thing going on out there. It’s really early and less connected and less well-formed as an argument than what I was writing about in Whatever it Takes, but it contains the germ of having new ways of thinking about poverty and what is going on in the lives of poor kids and what kinds of interventions might get them out of poverty.

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Canada in England

In the Independent of London, a profile of Geoffrey Canada, tied to the release of “Waiting for ‘Superman'” in the United Kingdom. The article (which refers to Canada as a “Harlem globetrotter”) includes this tidbit:

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has used Mr Canada’s achievements in Harlem, one of New York’s bleakest neighbourhoods, as a blueprint for the “free” schools initiative being launched in England next year. Mr Gove says of Mr Canada’s achievements: “Geoffrey Canada is a real life superhero. He has devoted his life to state education and to raising standards for the very poorest. His Harlem Children’s Zone is a radical experiment in changing the way children are brought up.”

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

“Superman” revisited

From the Nashville Scene, another thoughtful review of “Waiting for ‘Superman,'” this one with some intriguing academic footnotes:

In a broader sense, Waiting for “Superman” may contain the seeds of its own ineffectuality. Academics such as Louis Althusser, writing on Marxism in the 1970s, conceived of a critical theory of popular culture in which the ruling class, in order to stave off revolution, creates pop-culture objects — books, music, movies — which allow revolutionary impulses to be expressed and expended. Viewing scenes of overthrow and revolt in the cinema, the people would experience release, and fail to feel the need to revolt in real life.

That is the fear with Waiting for “Superman.” Though the frustration and indignation at the plight of these children is intense, the film may serve as a sort of catharsis through outrage — leaving the viewer feeling subconsciously satisfied, despite the message.

That would be a tragedy — to see and not act. Despite his clear ideology and simplistic solutions, Guggenheim does have one thing absolutely right: Our education system is failing hundreds of thousands of students and families every day. We must act, but the solutions lie in dedicated hard work, not the waving of a magic wand (or the writing of a magic contract).

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

A Teacher Reflects on “Superman”

On the blog Organized Chaos, a teacher at a school outside of D.C. reflects on the movie “Waiting for ‘Superman.’” I thought her critique was smart and interesting, and I especially appreciated these thoughts on the movie’s portrayal of the Harlem Children’s Zone:

Another area where I think it simplified its facts was with the Harlem Children’s Zone. I idolize Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone and want to be him when I grow up. I could watch an entire movie on his schools and still want to know more about his programs. He is profiled throughout the entire movie, and much of what he discusses is also in the book Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough.  Yet the movie makes Canada’s journey seem easy, while in Whatever It Takes he discusses some of the true difficulties he ran up against that should truly be considered whenever discussing the role of charter schools and public education in education our neediest children. If we want to make true progress we need to look at past road blocks and learn from them, not just brush them under the rug.

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Bill Gates Q&A

Last weekend, Parade magazine ran a Q&A that I did with Bill Gates in September on teaching, schools, and “Waiting for Superman.” This week in the magazine, there’s a response from the president of the National Education Association.

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Waiting for Superman

Geoffrey Canada is one of the central characters in the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,'” which opens today in selected theaters. Earlier this week, the Daily News published a long profile of Canada tied to the movie. In the review in the New York Times today, Stephen Holden writes:

If Mr. Canada, who was born in the South Bronx and grew up to be one of the country’s most charismatic and inspiring educators, is not Superman, he must be a close relative. Those who have read Paul Tough’s book, “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America,” will know that the 97-block Harlem Children’s Zone, which he founded and runs, is no miracle. The zone is astoundingly successful at getting children through high school and into college. But that success, largely dependent on private money, is a costly product of laborious trial and error.