5 Captivating Films that Challenge Education Norms

5 Captivating Films that Challenge Education Norms

Written by GOOD DOCS intern Layla Wall

These five exceptional documentaries not only shed light on various educational journeys but also invite us to question traditional education systems, fostering a space for personal growth and positive change. Through these captivating stories, we witness the importance of inclusivity, cultural preservation, and the pursuit of knowledge beyond conventional boundaries.

Another Word for Learning tells the story of 11-year-old Aisha as she dares to redefine her educational path. The documentary follows Aisha through her struggles with public school in Vancouver as she courageously pursues her passions beyond the confines of traditional learning. As a member of the native tribe Kwakwaka'wakw, she decided to pursue education outside of her otherwise colonial curriculum, which also created an opportunity for her to further explore her indigenous heritage. The documentary offers an empowering and endearing lens into the lives of one native family who's fighting back against the imposition of colonial values in the Canadian education system and emphasizes the importance of self-directed learning.

In the heart of the California public school system, The Pushouts sheds light on the experiences of black and Latino students. Challenging the stigmatizing term "dropouts," the documentary presents a powerful case for understanding the systemic barriers faced by these students. Through the remarkable journey of Victor Rios, from his troubled past to becoming a respected UC professor, we witness the transformative impact of mentorship and support in reshaping the lives of these students, highlighting the urgent need for social and racial justice within the education system. The documentary deals with complex issues of race, social justice, racial inequality, and socioeconomic inequality.  The Pushouts  highlight how the U.S. school system is pushing students out of schools and the importance of fostering a system where students feel supported and encouraged.

This documentary explores how one mosque in Syria has transformed into a center that inspires change and uplifts women. Houda al-Habash is a conservative Muslim preacher who used her platform as a means for social change. She taught the religions of Islam to young girls and encouraged them to seek higher education. The Light in Her Eyes highlights the profound intersection of religion and education while shedding light on the power of knowledge and challenging social norms.


This documentary explores the deeply flawed sex education systems in the U.S.  The Dilemma of Desire courageously confronts the taboos and misconceptions surrounding female sexuality. By shedding light on the importance of comprehensive sex education, the documentary empowers women and encourages a holistic embrace of femininity, challenges patriarchal narratives and fosters a more inclusive understanding of sexuality.

This documentary aims to show that the presence of foreign languages in U.S. educational spaces needs to not only be accepted but celebrated. Through the lens of language immersion programs,  Speaking In Tongues presents a diverse array of families navigating the challenges and rewards of bilingualism. By showcasing the benefits of embracing foreign languages and cultures, the documentary advocates for an inclusive educational landscape that values and celebrates linguistic diversity.

These five remarkable documentaries offer a gateway to exploring the untapped potential of education, urging us to embrace diverse approaches to learning. As we engage with these captivating stories, we are inspired to foster inclusivity, challenge societal norms, and embark on our transformative journeys of personal growth.

For more Education & Educational Equity films, see our GOOD DOCS collection here