HIGH SCHOOL II is a film about Central Park East Secondary School (CPESS), a successful alternative high school in New York's Spanish Harlem, 85-95% of whose graduates go on to four year colleges. The film illustrates the school's emphasis on the “Habits of Mind” program (weighing evidence; awareness of multiple points of view; seeing connections and relationships; speculating on possibilities; and assessing values.) Sequences illustrating the school's approach to learning include: classroom activities in the humanities and sciences; family conferences; discussions of race, class, and gender; faculty meetings; disciplinary problems; sex education; conflict resolution by students; and student council meetings.
HIGH SCHOOL II portrays CPESS with its predominantly black and Hispanic student body as a font of nurturing and learning. Classes are small with loads of student/teacher interaction.
–Lewis Beale, Daily News
Wiseman’s method fits perfectly with the school’s approach to teaching. Again and again, you hear the staff of Central Park East ask the students to fill out their statements, to add detail, to provide more evidence. That’s exactly what Wiseman does devotedly and brilliantly.
–Stuart Klawans, The Nation
Mr. Wiseman is now a master of the epic documentary. (CPESS)… urges its students, a multiracial mix that includes political organizers and teen-age parents, to talk, listen and think for themselves.
–Caryn James, The New York Times
Educationalincludes public performance rights
released 1994, 220 minutes
A film study guide is available.
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