Waiting for Superman Movie Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Waiting for Superman' is a 2010 documentary film by director Davis Guggenheim that critiques the public education system through the personal stories of 5 students. The following asset provides discussion questions about this film.

Waiting for Superman

Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman offers the filmmaker's critical perspective of public schools in America. Blaming teachers' unions and political bureaucracy, Guggenheim promotes charter schools which are not required to adhere to the same standards. Although many have rebuked the film's claims as incomplete and one-sided, the film provides students with the opportunity to examine educational options and a perspective on solutions they may not have previously considered. These questions offer material for classroom discussions about this film.

School Performance

  • Why do you think the filmmaker started the film with the anecdote about Superman? What does Superman symbolize in the film?
  • How have the filmmaker's ideas about public schools changed? What prompted the change? Do you agree with the filmmaker's opinion of public schools? Why?
  • What are some of the personal and social issues students face that interfere with learning? What are some factors that impact how successful students will be in school?
  • According to the filmmaker, what is the correlation between how much money is spent per student and reading/math scores? What impact did No Child Left Behind have on test scores? What are some possible reasons why legislative action did not produce intended results?
  • What makes a school a 'dropout factory'? Do you think the blame should be placed on the school, the community, or other factors? Explain your answer. Who are the people who have the greatest influence on your school performance?
  • How do American students perform on standardized tests compared to students in other countries? How might cultural beliefs about education affect the performance of students in different countries?

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