5 Education Documentaries That Could Change Your Life

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Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services have made access to movies and TV incredibly easy, and watching a documentary is a convenient way to learn about a topic. However, with so many choices it can be challenging to find quality, non-biased education documentaries. No one wants to spend two hours watching something that wasn’t worthwhile, right? Not to worry, we did the work for you!

Our Top 5 Favorite Education Documentaries

Are you interested in the history of education, inequality, and segregation within education? Do you want to gain insight into post-secondary education for yourself? Do you want to learn education dos and don’ts for your children? Regardless of your goal, documentaries provide information on matters within teaching, learning, and education.

For this reason, you should sit back and enjoy the following education documentaries. They feature current, informative, and important matters in education today:

1. Teach Us All

Year: 2017

Length: 1 hour 20 minutes


From IMDb:

“It’s the eve of the 60th anniversary of the 1957 Little Rock school desegregation crisis. Educational inequality remains among the most urgent civil rights issues of our time. With its school district hanging in the balance following a state takeover in January 2015, Little Rock today presents a microcosm of the inequities and challenges in classrooms across America. Through case studies in Little Rock, New York City, and Los Angeles, Teach Us All seeks to bring critical lessons of history to bear on the current state of U.S. education: 60 years later, how far have we come or not come? And then how do we catalyze action from here?”


2. College, Inc.

Year: 2010

Length: 56 minutes


From pbs.org:

“College, Inc., raises concerns about aggressive job placement promises, questionable enrollment, and recruiting practices, and disproportionate debt loads at for-profit colleges/universities. Soon after it aired in 2010, Congress held hearings to investigate. One institution featured, Corinthian Colleges, closed in 2015 after the Department of Education fined it nearly $30 million for “misrepresentation of job placement rates to current and prospective students.”



3. The Bad Kids

Year: 2016

Length: 1 hour 41 minutes


From TheBadKidsMovie.com:

“The Bad Kids is a documentary that chronicles one extraordinary principal’s mission to realize the potential of students the system has deemed lost causes.  Employing a verité approach during a year at the school, our film follows Principal Vonda Viland. She coaches three at-risk teens––a new father who can’t support his family, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse, and an angry young man from an unstable home––through the traumas and obstacles that threaten their goal of a high school diploma.”


4. Waiting for ‘Superman’

Year: 2010

Length: 1 hour 51 minutes


From IMDb:

“Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily. Their stories make up the foundation of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. As he follows promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim undertakes an exhaustive review of public education. He surveys “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems.”


5. American Promise

Year: 2013

Length: 2 hours 15 minutes


From amdoc.org:

“American Promise spans 13 years. Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun. They make their way through Dalton, one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation, this is a provocative, intimate documentary. It presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class, and opportunity.”


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Actionable Steps


Grab the popcorn

Sit back and enjoy! There’s nothing like a great Netflix binge on a topic you’re passionate about. Moreover, you can also learn while you watch.


Keep learning

After you’ve watched the education documentaries recommended here, continue learning by exploring the links in the last actionable step. Additionally, there are tons of other great education documentaries available. No digging necessary!


Take notes

These education documentaries are packed with fascinating information. Grab a pen and paper or your laptop to take notes as you watch.


Reflect and ask questions

Review your notes and do some reflection too. Think about areas that you have questions about. Then, conduct some research to answer them.


Read more about the Best Education Documentaries

Again, you can learn more about must-watch education documentaries by reading the following articles, reviewed to be the best by our professionals: “The Best Documentaries About Education”- Ranker. “9 Education Documentaries on Netflix to Stream in 2019”- Rasmussen College. “90+ Education Documentaries to Challenge and Inspire”- Etale.org.

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About the Author

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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