Waiting for Superman


Guggenheim, Davis




The 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman, directed by Davis Guggenheim (director of An Inconvenient Truth) analyzes the future of public education in America and discusses high school drop-out factories where over 40% of students don't graduate on time. In looking at the experiences of failing schools, it becomes clear that certain students in America are set up to succeed while others are set up to fail. Waiting for Superman lends itself to dialogue about public education in America and how this system contributes to racial, social, and economic injustice across the country, as well as to imagining how we can create a more equitable future.

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watch short video clips from the film.

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Diversity and DifferenceExclusion and BelongingJustice and EqualityMoney and WealthPoverty and NeedRace, Ethnicity and CultureSocial and Political ChangeTeaching and Learning

Big Questions

Is diversity important? Why?Why do some have so much and some have so little?What are the causes of poverty?Why do racial disparities exist and how do we change them?What enables change? What gets in the way?What are the greatest obstacles to teaching and learning?


Excerpt: 0:00-8:23

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. How does the image of a race represent the challenges of which the narrator speaks?
  2. What is a “drop-out factory”? What do you know about this kind of place?
  3. How would you feel if you were a student who knew that you were going to attend a “drop-out factory”?
  4. What do you think the relationship is between failing schools and failing neighborhoods?
  5. What do you think of the scene where the elementary school teacher shows her students their future middle school? Does it make sense to show young students their future schools if they are “academic sinkholes”?
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