A Student’s Perspective On ‘Most Likely To Succeed’ Film

A Student’s Perspective On ‘Most Likely To Succeed’ Film

This week, I was inspired to take action to speak up about the changes needed in our education system, all based on one film and one individual dedicated to spreading its message.

Education reformer Ted Dintersmith visits the Noble Impact 201 class.
Education reformer Ted Dintersmith visits the Noble Impact 201 class.
On November 17th, an email arrived in my inbox from my Noble Impact facilitator, Chad Williamson, explaining an opportunity to meet with former venture capitalist and education reformer Ted Dintersmith in my Noble 201 class and see his movie called, “Most Likely To Succeed.” Also attached to the email was a Washington Post article about Ted, who is the film’s executive director, entitled, “Not Bill Gates: Meet Ted Dintersmith, An Education Philanthropist With A Different Agenda.”

When I read the article, it gave me a sense of joy and happiness. Someone was bold enough to take a stand and say, as Ted did, “The U.S. education system should be re-imagined into cross-disciplinary programs that allow kids the freedom to develop core competencies through cross-disciplinary, project-based learning.” Ted wants these changes to become a reality for all schools in America, and it needs to start with us, students.

Our education system has been on an assembly line policy since I’ve been around. In fact, our education system hasn’t changed since 1893, for approximately 122 years ago. It worked before — why change it now, right? Well, there are many reasons, actually, the first of which is that students aren’t engaged, aren’t excelling, and aren’t prepare for life after school.

“Most Likely To Succeed” Executive Producer Ted Dintersmith speaks to the Noble Impact 201 class.
Ted visited my Noble 201 class before the “Most Likely To Succeed” film screening in Little Rock. His talk inspired me to want to learn more about him, because I believed in him. He also believed in me and has high hopes for the future. Ted’s talk also inspired me to write a letter to give to my school’s principal, dean of students, and all of the high school teachers at eStem High School — where I am a student — about how we can help change the education system.

Ted covered many of the common problems that occur in most high schools: The excuses of teachers saying “we can’t [do X, Y, or Z], because we don’t have enough time to cover the whole book;” the common disconnect with students and their schools; the disconnect of parental involvement; and also the mismatch of student skills and the emerging jobs of the future.

After school and Ted’s visit, the only thing in mind was watching his movie and understanding more about his creative school policy. I even went an hour early just to see what was happening before the screening started.

What the movie can offer is extremely important because it covers a variety of problems we see in traditional schools and even in charter schools. It begins with the director’s kid who feels that school is a waste of time and that there is no purpose. The director noted that prior to making the film, he often stressed that his children get good grades, so that they can get into better colleges and eventually land better jobs.

A young Little Rock screening attendee asks the panel a question about the future of jobs.
A young Little Rock screening attendee asks the panel a question about the future of jobs.
That sentiment, in fact, is heard everywhere we go, and even my parents feel the same way. But it’s getting harder to find a job that is sustainable and enables a person to be self-sufficient. The early jobs that we get in college — like a cashier or a Walmart greeter — are disappearing. Furthermore, the jobs that we’ll end up getting 5-10 years from now aren’t yet created — basing our education on the jobs that currently exist, then, is a bad strategy, since many of those jobs are dying.

Taking risks is what this world may need. Being bold instead of safe is needed to see a better future, because what happens when students are presented with these new-economy jobs? Will we greet them with confidence, or will we shutter in fear, because we aren’t prepared? How will we respond?

As for me, what I took from the movie is that observing, reflecting, documenting, and displaying are key skills that schools should strive to teach kids. Kids who are eager to observe their surroundings; kids who can reflect on their projects, their roles, their plans for their teams; kids who share their experiences and believe that anyone can do what they do; and lastly kids who are excited to exhibit what they’ve done and say to anyone “Yes, I accomplished something and I’m proud of it” — those are the kids who will succeed.

Overall, this movie isn’t meant to just be put in libraries or on your movie shelf. This movie was meant for communities of people who are eager to change the way they see education today, to collaborate with each other and come up with a solution to bring back to their school and implement.

‘Most Likely To Succeed’ Film Spurs Education Conversation In Arkansas

‘Most Likely To Succeed’ Film Spurs Education Conversation In Arkansas

More than 200 Arkansans gathered to discuss the future of education at two Noble Impact screenings of this year’s most-talked-about education documentary, “Most Likely To Succeed.”

Screened in Fort Smith and Little Rock this past week, the film questions America’s outdated education system and calls for communities to come together to reimagine education for the 21st century. These two screenings, too, account for the film’s debut in Arkansas, as it only premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January. The film was discovered by Noble Impact CEO Eric Wilson and VP of Product Erica Swallow during a visit to the Tribeca Film Festival in April and the duo knew they had to bring it to the Arkansas community.

Ted Dintersmith at Fort Smith screening
Ted Dintersmith speaks up on education reform at the Fort Smith screening.
Attendees of both screenings included local students of all ages, educators, administrators, parents, and business leaders. Community members and contributors from organizations such as Teach For America, Arkansas Learns, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, City Year, eStem Schools, Walgreens, First National Bank, Acxiom, the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Department of Education, Little Rock School District, and the state government filled the seats of each theater, eager to see the film and discuss ideas for change.

At both screenings, the film’s Executive Producer Ted Dintersmith headlined post-screening Q&A panels, both moderated by Noble Impact CEO Eric Wilson. “Arkansas has the potential to transform its schools to be better than any — not just in the U.S. but around the globe,” Dintersmith told Arkansas Business prior to his trip to the Natural State.

At Fort Smith, Dintersmith — joined by Big Picture Learning Co-executive Director Andrew Frishman and Future School of Fort Smith Advisor Talicia Richardson — discussed the need for innovation in an ever-changing economy. “The price of innovation is the loss of job categories,” he said, noting that the jobs that our students will be filling in the next 20 years haven’t even been invented yet. He added one more piece of food for thought to the conversation — namely that 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. Clearly there is a mismatch of education attainment and market needs.

Noble Impact 201 scholars Breanna Tyler and Jones McConnell speak with Ted Dintersmith at the Little Rock screening.
Noble Impact 201 scholars Breanna Tyler and Jones McConnell connected with Ted Dintersmith after the Little Rock screening.
In Little Rock, the audience turned its attention towards the pains of change. “Is it even possible to overhaul the education system with all of the politics it entails?” one audience member asked.

Brave Noble Impact 201 scholar Jones McConnell, too, addressed the in-class issues that might persist even as educators try to shift to a more student-centered, interactive approach: “So many students get excited about ideas, but they’re often discouraged by teacher and peer feedback,” McConnell said, “If kids get turned down at school, how can we reach them?” Engagement, he accurately pointed out, is one of the key issues in today’s K-12 environment, particularly as students move further through school. Engagement drops year by year, as students find content less relevant and purpose-driven.

“We need to begin with the end in mind,” panelist and career educator Dr. David Rainey said at the Little Rock screening. “We have to learn how to learn.” What inspired me most about Rainey’s perspective was that he was steadfast on the purpose of reform. “I’m not advocating for charters. I’m not advocating for public schools,” he expressed. “I’m advocating for kids.” Indeed, no matter the strategy for change, we must always keep the purpose in mind. It’s time to work backwards from our goal and recreate the system.

Arkansas Times Associate Editor Benji Hardy and Arkansas Department of Education Assistant Commissioner of Learning Services Debbie Jones also joined the Little Rock panel, adding their own perspectives as analysts and practitioners, respectively.

Little Rock screening attendees talk education reform.
Little Rock screening attendees talk education reform.
These screenings wouldn’t have been possible without our partnerships with the Clinton School of Public Service, the Arkansas Times, the Ron Robinson Theater, the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, and the Future School of Fort Smith. Thank you to our colleagues at each of these organizations who set aside time and resources to help engage our community in a conversation about our shared future.

Making the massive changes we need in our education system truly is a community effort. We have a heavy lift here, but together we can do it.

As co-hosts of these film screenings, we at Noble Impact are incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support and engagement that’s been spurred. This is merely a beginning, though — let’s continue this conversation on how we’re going to change Arkansas’s education system.

For starters, if you’re interested in learning more about “Most Likely To Succeed” or our screenings, check out images from the screenings on Noble Impact’s Facebook page, and learn more about hosting a screening of the film in your community on the film’s website.

Now, we turn the mic over to you: How do you want to change education? Tweet us @NobleImpact with the hashtag #MLTSFilm.

Noble Impact To Host First Screenings Of “Most Likely To Succeed” In Arkansas

Noble Impact To Host First Screenings Of “Most Likely To Succeed” In Arkansas

We think about student engagement all the time. In fact, the declining state of student engagement in the American K-12 system is why we even started Noble Impact. The ability to engage students at a high level is very challenging but also very critical to the success of students and teachers. So, how do we do it? How do we engage students while engaging teachers in the education process?

Most Likely To Succeed,” a new documentary that Education Week named “among the best edu-documentaries ever produced,” aims to answer these questions. We’re honored and excited to announce that we’re bringing the film to Arkansas for the first time ever.

We’ll screen the film in two locations in November — Fort Smith and Little Rock — and both screenings will be followed by a special Q&A session with the Executive Director of the film, Ted Dintersmith.

The Fort Smith screening, set for Wednesday, November 18th at 7:30 p.m. at the UAFS Windgate Art & Design Theater, will be be our kickoff event. RSVP for the Fort Smith screening here.

The Little Rock screening, set for the following day on Thursday, November 19th at 7 p.m. at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, will be presented in partnership with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, as part of the Arkansas Times Film Series. RSVP for the Little Rock screening here.

Defining success in the 21st Century is ever-changing, ambiguous, and uncertain. We hope this film evokes meaning and spurs conversation on how we make education better… together. If you believe that education is important, we hope to see you there! Check out the film trailer below to get a taste of what we’ll see and discuss.