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An Inconvenient Educational Project: Screening Al Gore’s Film In Schools

May 7, 2007

I have a friend who is a secondary school principal here in Chicago. A few weeks ago we discussed the idea of showing Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth at my friend’s school. This friend clearly agrees with the educational thrust of the film, but was concerned about the political ramifications of a screening. I countered that since Gore’s movie is about global climate change, and not the old kickball of ‘global warming,’ one perhaps might make a successful argument for its showing.

A story in last Friday’s Guardian Unlimited has changed my mind. The Guardian reported that plans for government-backed screenings in the U.K. are running into trouble. Titled “Court Challenge To Gore Film In Schools,” here are some excerpts from the piece:

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– “Government plans to provide every secondary school in England with Al Gore’s climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth are to be challenged in the courts. An application has been lodged at the high court by a father of two schoolchildren, who is seeking permission to apply for a ruling that the proposal is unlawful.”
– “The [U.K.’s] environment secretary, David Miliband, and the education secretary, Alan Johnson, announced the project in February.”
– “Critics say using the former US vice-president’s documentary film as a teaching aid conflicts with the duties and obligations of local education authorities when it come to teaching politically controversial subjects such as climate change. One critic, Stuart Dimmock, a father of two from Kent, has lodged papers at the high court in London challenging the education secretary over the plan to include the DVD in a climate change pack for schools. Mr Dimmock is asking a judge to rule that he has ‘an arguable case’ which should go to a full hearing. It is understood that he is also expected to apply for an injunction to prevent schools receiving the DVDs until after the hearing.”
– “Mr Johnson said at the launch of the project that influencing the opinions of children was crucial to developing a long-term view on the environment among the public. He said: ‘With rising sea temperatures, melting ice caps and frequent reminders about our own ‘carbon footprints’, we should all be thinking about what we can do to preserve the planet for future generations. Al Gore’s film is a powerful message about the fragility of our planet and I’m delighted that we are able to make sure every secondary school in the country has a copy to stimulate children into discussing climate change and global warming in school classes.’ “
– “It is planned that the DVD will go to 3,385 secondary schools in England as part of a ‘sustainable schools year of action.’ “

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Should this film be screened in U.S. schools? I think so. I expect most readers here agree, but I’m still interested in thoughts on the subject. Aside from a few annoying jabs by Gore at the current administration, the subject matter is too important to ignore. Plus, the film lays out the data in pretty straightforward manner. – TL

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One Comment
  1. It is funny that you mention this. We just recently watched this in a college geography course, I know that is far from secondary schooling but still begs the question of morality. Should such an informative documentary be screened in educational institution even with a slight political undertone? I found the documentary very interesting and its popularity can only help exposing global climate change issues. I think most students can recognize the political overtures and decifer for themselves the useful information provided by the documentary, but that's just my opinion. Now will I screen it when I become a secondary school teacher? Maybe not in a history classroom.

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