Bob Gliner, Documentary filmmaker


Communities as Classrooms
(28 minutes)

Communities as Classrooms, follows Bob Gliner as he introduces a profound education initiative at four schools in El Salvador in the Fall of 2015. While schools in El Salvador largely resemble those in the United States, with test driven classes, fragmented curriculum and traditional lecture style teaching techniques, largely divorced from real world problems, Bob has K-12 students build an interdisciplinary curriculum around solving problems in their surrounding communities motivated by the students themselves deciding what those problems are. Communities as Classrooms traces the process week to week over a two month period as students evolve from disinterested bystanders in their classroom experiences, to active members of a newly thriving democracy. From passive recipients of education mandates, the newly invigorated curriculum leads not only to a vibrant student driven educational experience, and the solving of real world problems, but transforms the way teachers, administrators, parents, and other community members look at the role students play in the larger society. As El Salvador makes efforts to build on this education success story, by potentially training all of its teachers to do community based education, Americans might want to consider this option as well as we look for more effective and creative ways to educate students and revitalize our democracy.

Communities as Classrooms was produced in association with the Ministry of Education, El Salvador. It will begin airing on PBS stations across the country in June, 2016.

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A wonderful documentary, Communities as Classrooms offers important reminders for us in the United States: anything is possible when students are motivated to learn and given the opportunity to fully use their creativity to work on real-world problems in their own communities. As adults, its our responsibility to create and sustain those spaces.

Kwesi Rollins
Director of Leadership Programs
Institute for Educational Leadership

"Like all of Bob Gliner's films, watching Communities as Classrooms exploded my idea of what is possible in schools. Communities as Classrooms once again demonstrates that Place-based education is a practical and innovative teaching method for helping young people become active contributors to their communities. As a teacher educator and community advocate for public education, I plan on using this film to create rich discussions about our vision for education in the US."

Ethan Lowenstein
Professor of Education
Eastern Michigan University

"A powerful film by virtue of the story it tells so well. But, more than that, it is a compelling demonstration of the how and why of place-based education. I strongly recommend it for school leaders, teachers, policy makers and community members who care about educational equity and excellence and are in search of ways to provide a relevant, high quality education under very challenging circumstances."

Doris Williams
Rural Schools and Community Trust

Bob Gliner's film Communities as Classrooms demonstrates how quickly students can be drawn into projects that hold the promise of bettering their school or community. If lessons like these can be implemented so effectively in El Salvador in schools with fewer resources than in the U.S. and social problems that exceed our own, what might young people here be able to accomplish if asked to contribute their energy and intelligence to others?

Greg Smith
Professor of Education
Lewis and Clark College