Approaching the Elephant (2014) - Rotten Tomatoes

Approaching the Elephant (2014)

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Filmmaker Amanda Rose Wilder takes viewers into the Teddy McArdle Free School to explore a concept of education that originated at the Summerhill School in Leiston, England in 1921. As opposed to traditional public schools, free schools allow young students to gradually discover their own identities while exploring their interests in a comfortable, self-governing, democratic community in which all classes are voluntary, and children are viewed as equals. In this documentary, we witness how the children and their teachers work to resolve a troublesome situation that arises over the course of the school year.

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Critic Reviews for Approaching the Elephant

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (5)

There's still something exhilarating about the school's experiment and the children's ability to apply democratic principles without clobbering one another (much).

February 19, 2015 | Full Review…

It's a visceral, experiential, and absorbing viewing experience, not an educational issue doc.

February 19, 2015 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A portrait of the sheer difficulty in establishing a democratic organization, especially when its prospective practitioners are between 5 and 12 years old.

February 19, 2015 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
Top Critic

Nuanced and passionate ...

February 16, 2015 | Full Review…

Freedom curdles into chaos, and it's from this turbulence that the film derives much of its visceral power.

June 17, 2014 | Full Review…

Wilder's film is a remarkable document of a utopian experiment that shows great restraint in withholding judgment on its outcomes.

March 21, 2016 | Rating: Recommended | Full Review…

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