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Radical: The Most Impactful Movie of the Last Year

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I was on a flight earlier this year and found myself watching the movie Radical. It sucked me into its true story of a teacher in a failed school in Matamoros, Mexico in 2012. Before long, I found myself rooting for its characters and even weeping along the way. The movie immediately had m…
By sethbarnes

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I was on a flight earlier this year and found myself watching the movie Radical. It sucked me into its true story of a teacher in a failed school in Matamoros, Mexico in 2012. Before long, I found myself rooting for its characters and even weeping along the way.

The movie immediately had my interest because it is just three blocks away from where AIM had a base on the edge of the slums near a large garbage dump – the same dump featured in the movie and the same base that our daughter Estie lived at for half a year.

The teacher, Sergio, is new to the school. He arrives thinking that it will have new computers. But a corrupt system has failed to deliver on its promise.

Sergio sees the failure and realizes he’s going to have to do things differently if he’s to help his students. So instead of lecturing them and making them take standardized tests, he tries to find out what they are interested in. He taps into their curiosity and lets it drive their learning process. 

Of course, when you go up against an entrenched system, you are probably going to lose and if you become a threat, people can get hurt. That dynamic is what makes the story so compelling. 99% of viewers liked it on Rotten Tomatoes and it has won awards..
I was moved by the movie for another reason as well. For a long time, I’ve thought that our school systems need to tap into student curiosity and personal initiative better than they do. Especially our colleges need to do a better job. And Christian colleges are positioned to especially impact their students in a way more in keeping with Jesus’s methods.
For eight years I’ve tried to partner with multiple Christian colleges to see if it might be possible to combine missions and higher ed.
This summer, we’re trying another experiment: In a week we launch World Race U (WRU). to develop tomorrow’s Christ-following leaders through intensive experiential education and the guidance of coaches and peers.
Radical shows us that its possible to give students experiences provoking wonder, curiosity and dialogue. Its story shows us that our students don’t need curriculum so much as they need the freedom to ask questions and then learn as they attempt to discover answers.
As I’ve researched curiosity-based learning, I found that there is an educational revolution underway in America (see this Forbes article). A micro-school movement is encouraging many parents who want to see their kids get a good education.* It’s not unusual to see micro-school classes progress more than twice as fast as their public school counterparts. The Radical story shows us how.
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* Here’s a USA-based school network that is becoming a movement: Acton Academy.

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