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To download this film in Spanish, click here

Full-length film (57 mins. 9 secs.) Vimeo Link
Full-length film with Spanish subtitles (57 mins. 9 secs.) Enlace Vimeo
pdf or Word doc
Click here to download WHY DO THESE KIDS LOVE SCHOOL?
Click here for the Study Guide for WHY DO THESE KIDS LOVE SCHOOL?

Dorothy's Making of

As our two children went through the elementary grades (in Peninsula, an independent school with a progressive philosophy), we observed how much they loved being at school. After they graduated and were clearly thriving in high school and college, I felt compelled to go back and document some of the complex, often subtle dynamics that made their education so successful in every way.  Starting with this one progressive private school, I ended up documenting the fact that this kind of education could happen in a variety of public settings. The final film, a prime time PBS special, looked at programs not only in one independent school, but also in eight public schools.


  • For educators to be introduced to new perspectives and fresh ideas
  • For parents to bring innovative approaches to their children’s teachers and school administrators
  • For professors and students in Departments of Education to learn about a variety of alternative approaches to teaching
  • For meetings and conferences which bring together educators who are interested in thinking "out of the box"

Useful Links

Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO)
Website: Education Revolution
This site brings together an extraordinarily wide range of progressive, alternative educational ideas and resources. For anyone interested in learning about alternative education, this IS one stop shopping!  AERO's goal is to advance student-driven, learner-centered approaches to education. AERO is considered by many to be the primary hub of communications and support for educational alternatives around the world

Paths of Learning: An Introduction to Alternative Education:
Website: Paths of Learning
The site provides an initial window for seeing the similarities and differences among alternatives while pointing teachers and parents toward other resources for further exploration, making it possible to find (or create) educational alternatives in your own communities that best match your evolving beliefs and core values.


An intimate look at an 80-year-old independent school, followed by visits to eight public schools around the country (pre-school through high school) - all of which have innovative education programs. In each location, we meet teachers, parents, students, and administrators who are creating vibrant, supportive educational environments.

We see the result of programs that value creative thinking and direct experience more than memorization of facts: strong student and faculty morale, improved test scores, and classrooms of students with the capacity for self-directed learning.
What emerges is the value of implementing humane values in our schools.


Director and Writer: Dorothy Fadiman
Videographers: Blake McHugh,
David Espar and Bob Moore
Editors: Lise Braden, Nila Bogue,
Peter Carnochan, Daniel Meyers,
Blake McHugh
Assistant Editor: Clemencia Macias
Music: Alex de Grassi and Ric Louchard
Introduction: Tom Peters
Producer: KTEH-TV (PBS)


Full script for WHY DO THESE KIDS LOVE SCHOOL? pdf or Word doc
Study Guide pdf


American Film and Video Festival
The "Joeys" San Jose Film Festival
Chicago Film Festival
National Educational Film and Video Festival
Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival

Broadcasts and Other Viewings

This film was featured as a prime-time special and shown on PBS stations throughout the United States in the 1990's.

Since 2000, the film aired hundreds of times and continues to be shown on PBS and Cable Access stations nationwide. It is also posted on various websites. On one of these, Internet Archive, it has been viewed more than 14,000 times!

Special Event

  • WHY DO THESE KIDS LOVE SCHOOL? was featured as a prime-time PBS special and shown on stations throughout the United States in the 1990’s.

  • Since 2000, the film aired hundreds of times and continues to be shown on PBS and Cable Access stations nationwide.


"For too long there has been a chilling assumption around this land: that schools are not capable of improving themselves, that they must await the intervention of some outside commission, committee, agency or force. This remarkable documentary lays that myth to rest once and for all." ROLAND BARTH
Founding Director The Principals' Center (Harvard University)

"This beautiful film shows convincingly that schools can be places of delight, learning, caring and wisdom." NEL NODDINGS
Professor Emerita, Stanford University School of Education

"It is incredibly heartening and inspiring to see these nine good schools through a perceptive lens. WHY DO THESE KIDS LOVE SCHOOL? functions both as a wonderful statement of modern progressivism and as a rousing three cheers for everyone working hard to improve our country's schools." THEODORE SIZER
Founder, The Essential School Movement (Brown University)

"If I wanted my faculty to talk about how our school ought to be, I'd start with this videotape. I'd share its images of many schools, each different from the others, all showing children as active learners, teachers and principals as decision makers, and schools as supportive communities." - (full review) ANNE MEEK
Educational Leadership

"It is an excellent documentary which features the Peninsula School, in Menlo Park, California, and also describes eight public alternative schools around the United States." AERO newsletter

"Pure magic! I've never seen a more riveting portrayal of youngsters learning and growing. Educators seeking new images of what schools can be will find ideas, as well as inspiration, in this remarkable documentary, including the simple message that there are schools in this country where innovation is the norm, mutual respect is the standard, and children truly enjoy learning.
The film manages not only to produce a strong emotional impact but also to provide a remarkably intimate look at life inside nine different schools. It successfully conveys a sense of the spirit and personality of the schools portrayed, and it even manages to suggest something of what makes them tick." – (full review) MARY ANNE RAYWID
Hofstra University Center for the Study of Educational Alternatives