Some thoughts on the documentary “Beyond the Bricks”

| November 10, 2010

“Beyond the Bricks,” which was screened yesterday at Milbank Chapel, not only addresses one of the nation’s most critical problems – the low academic performance of black males – but also offers solutions to bring about change. In contrast to the documentary film “Waiting for Superman,” change doesn’t begin with policy makers, but with the students in the classrooms and the communities that they come from. Educators and community leaders alike have learned that, for black males, education alone is not enough for them to fight back and rise up from their current conditions. It is not enough that we teach them reading, writing, math, and science, but must cultivate their values, help them to make the right decisions when faced with  difficult situations. This means that we need to go beyond classroom walls and step inside their communities, their homes. For most black males, they live in communities fraught with problems–gangs, drugs, poverty, etc. They also have often-single parents who are themselves involved in the same problems. The film presented a comprehensive survey with findings that students who feel unsafe do the worst in schools–the same is true for Latino students. In order to teach the black males in our classroom, we need to reach out to their parents, set up after-school programs, and become mentors (not only teachers).

This film went beyond the problems and looked at possible solutions. It gave us ideas to bring about real change. This film didn’t just reiterate the same problems we all know (and keep silent about), but created possibilities for real results.