Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: NR Length: 85 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 12+. The documentary is about a couple advocating for alternative-education options for rural teenagers, but eschews the typical look-how-inspirational-we-are format by also delving into the shortsightedness of the public school system. A good family viewing opportunity because it should spark a discussion between parents and children about the public school structure and how both groups think it can be improved.
‘If You Build It’ does all the things a good documentary should, building a strong nonfiction narrative about alternative-education options for American teenagers and making viewers care about the outcome. How frustrating to see small-town America squander an opportunity that can benefit so many.
By Roxana Hadadi
How to improve the American public-school experience? For years we’ve been hearing about U.S. students slipping in international rankings; we know about the onslaught of standardized testing; we’re aware of how classrooms are increasingly structured solely around technology instead of teacher-to-student relationships. A solution, argue the filmmakers and subjects of the documentary “If You Build It,” might be found in taking education back to hands-on learning, to teaching America’s youth how to think critically and creatively with their brains and their hands. It’s a compelling argument—and how educational bureaucrats disregard it will frustrate anyone who has been paying attention.