The Learning: A Documentary on Four Filipina Teachers in Baltimore

This is amazing:

One hundred years ago, American teachers established the English-speaking public school system of the Philippines. Now, in a striking turnabout, American schools are recruiting Filipino teachers.

Even more amazing: these Filipino teachers are leaving their families to teach… in the impoverished, public schools of Baltimore.

Filmmaker Ramona Diaz, who won an award from the 2004 Sundance Film Festival for her film Imelda, just released her latest documentary, The Learning.

From now until October 20, 2011, you can watch the full film online. This documentary follows the experiences of four Filipina educators:

  • Dorotea Godinez (high school science teacher)
  • Angel Alim-Flores (7th grade math teacher)
  • Grace Amper (9th grade math teacher)
  • Rhea Espedido (special education elementary teacher)

They are assigned to Harlem Park Middle School, Renaissance Academy, Lockerman Bundy Elementary School and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (one of the highest-ranked public high schools in the state). The four women brave the culture clash and disorderly classrooms because of the opportunity this presents to their families: they will be making 25 times their salary teaching in these schools, not because Baltimore is flush with cash, but because the economic realities in the Philippines are even more harsh.

As you can imagine, the struggles they face are immense. Yet:

Slowly, the students’ curiosity gets the better of them and they begin to be impressed by these foreign women who are so determined to teach them. Indeed, the very unfamiliarity of these Asian women helps their American students open up. For the Filipinas, a window also opens: They let go of their cultural expectations and begin to work with the students on American terms.

Three of the four Filipina teachers are still in Baltimore and one, Grace, has brought her family over to make a permanent home here.

The Learning is an uplifting film you’ve got to watch, not only for the courage and compassion of these Filipina teachers, but for the message of hope for the U.S. education system. It’s a nice complement to Waiting for Superman.

Hat tip: TS

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About Mike

I'm an idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student. And what, you want to Internet-stalk me too? Why, sure.
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