Sunday, January 06, 2013

"Whatever It Takes" to get disadvantaged kids prepped for college

Whatever It Takes” (2009, 53 min, PBS Independent Lens and Sundance Institute) aptly refers to the personal dedication of a “retired” (at 30) Asian-American business man (Edward Tom) who finds his calling helping disadvantaged kids get into college.  He gets a provisional teaching license at 30 in New York City, and soon is a principal of the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics (link) in the South Bronx.  And he makes it personal.  He really did make a “career switch”.

A lot of the film shows him pressuring individual students, and the last half of the film concerns one particular underperforming student, Sharifea Baskerville, who seems to be jeopardizing the interest Dartmouth has shown in her. 

Had I become a regular teacher after my own retirement from I.T., it’s hard for me to see myself pressuring students this way. 

The film has some still-style animation and drawings, and an interesting conversation in Chinese (subtitled) between Tom and his father. 

The official site is here

This may be a good place to mention the book by Rafe Esquith, “Teach Like You Hair’s on Fire”, on the Books blog Sept. 6, 2007.

I remember how the South Bronx looked from the train in the 1970s, when I lived in NYC. 

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