Segments in this Video

Introduction to Social Issues and Student Involvement (01:37)


Portland, Oregon educators express concern about the focus on test scores; they want students to care about what they are learning. Viewers will visit Portland classrooms where teachers are putting these ideas. to work.

Connecting Curriculum to Conservation (04:34)

Sojourner School students gather at the Errol Heights Wetland. Here they explore the ecosystem and learn about their impact on the community and the larger world. The school takes an approach to teaching that applies this exercise across the curriculum.

Discovering Democracy (05:09)

Civics students at Jefferson High School in Portland gather data documenting the health of a neighborhood. They take responsibility for their own learning as they interview residents, talk with one another, and think critically about their observations.

Connecting Cultures (04:23)

At Marshall High School students write about their lives and read their work to one another. They gain perspective and respect for each other in the process. Their teacher explains how this process is more effective in teaching language skills.

Student Entrepreneurs (04:17)

At Trillium Charter School, students create a seed company to raise money to build a wall to beautify their school. They are motivated to learn the skills of a successful business.

Developing Civic Minded Students. (06:32)

At Trillium Charter School students meet to discuss an issue and propose solutions. They check in on a fund raising effort to raise money for Kenyan students. Students role-play as a way of discussing the issues around the nation of Israel.

Community Gardening (04:26)

Atkinson Elementary students explore across the curriculum through the act of planting and harvesting in a variety of themed gardens.

Living Diversity (02:47)

Atkinson Elementary students expand cultural understanding and tolerance by studying a second language. Students for whom English is a second language are considered an asset to the program.

Teaching Social Justice (03:39)

Roosevelt High School students learn to understand themselves as figures in the political system. Engagement with social justice issues promotes literacy when students can apply themes to their own lives.

Teaching Communities (00:55)

Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor of Rethinking Schools Magazine talks about teachers coming together to communicate their teaching priorities.

Fashion & Social Responsibility (01:40)

Students at Sunnyside Environmental School put on an environmentally friendly fashion show. They consider recycled clothing and the issue of sweatshops.

Service Learning (03:25)

Students at Sunnyside Environmental School explore the community and consider its needs. They learn the train schedule and work at a food bank.

Creating Politically Literate Children (05:38)

Students at Sunnyside Environmental School create a classroom "city council." They explore the community to learn about its bicycle riding habits and prepare to present their findings to the Portland City Council.

Success in an Alternative Setting (03:10)

Aged 17-24, students at Portland Youth Builders have not been successful in traditional settings. Students work toward personal empowerment, learn job skills, and earn their GEDs as they build housing for lower income families.

Make-Ability of Place (04:01)

At Portland State University, capstone courses address compelling community issues. Students explore opportunities to get involved and create class projects that are a tangible contribution to the community.

Teaching as an Ethical, Moral and Artistic Act (00:26)

Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor of Rethinking Schools Magazine wraps up the film inviting viewers to reconsider the act of teaching.

Credits: Lessons from the Real World: Social Issues and Student Involvement (00:43)

Credits: Lessons from the Real World: Social Issues and Student Involvement

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Lessons from the Real World: Social Issues and Student Involvement

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A follow-up to Democracy Left Behind: NCLB and Civic Education (item #39484), this program looks at community-based learning in K–12 education. The film explores a wide variety of educational settings in which action-oriented lessons enable students to work outside the classroom, in their own communities. While taking nothing away from the importance of traditional academic subjects, the film promotes the idea that math, reading, and other areas are more effectively explored if students care about what they are learning—rather than being drilled with subject matter divorced from their real lives and the environments that often impact them. (55 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL43914

ISBN: 978-1-62102-085-1

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Makes it clear that there are alternatives to a curriculum built largely on abstractions and driven by a concern about raising test scores. See this film and take hope in the fact that this kind of education is still happening. Then make it happen yourself.”  Gregory Smith, Professor of Education, Lewis & Clark College


“An hour-long film your local board of education, PTA,and teachers should watch. It shows what school can be. Every member of Congress should be required to watch this film.” Susan Ohanian, Winner of the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language


“Reclaiming the need for involving children and youth of all ages in their communities and hence in living democracy, this film provides innumerable examples of the regenerative aspects of schooling.Inspirational, thought provoking and plain common-sense.”  Dilafruz Williams, Chair, Executive Committee Council of Great City Schools

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.