A film about education in America

    "This is a must-see for policymakers, school administrators,

    and the general public." ~Sebastian Ruth

    "Consider the conversation started." ~ Mark Walsh, Ed Week


    "Watch all the way to the end; this is the dream." ~ Susan Blum

  • Synopsis

    What if as well as teaching students what to think, we also taught them how to think? This simple but profound idea is the foundation for RE:THINKING, the new educational documentary that inspires us to rethink schools. It gives insight to policy makers, school administrators, parents, and the public. It offers hope to those seeking more from the current educational system.
    RE:THINKING is a film that shows rather than tells. It captures the voices of students, teachers, administrators and researchers and shows what can happen when they are all on the same page. This is not a film that rests on educational platitudes, either. RE:THINKING dives deeply into the research and practice of what it looks like when students are asked to think and what it means to teach thinking skills in the classroom. Following the work of Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera of Cornell University, RE:THINKING follows four school districts over the course of three years as they successfully meet public education requirements, while embracing a culture that emphasized thinking over memorization and valued the individual child--not as an empty vessel to be filled, but as an adult-in-training.
    Dr. Laura Cabrera explains, “When children understand how they think, any idea is possible and any goal achievable.” RE:THINKING shows us that the key to learning—as well as a just democracy—isn’t for students to be docile consumers of information but active builders of knowledge. Better thinkers in turn are more creative, more competent, and eager to solve problems and contribute to democratic society. Producer and Director, Deborah C. Hoard, explains, “There is no better place than education, to use the power of film to bring about social change.”

































  • Testimonials

    If you are an educator looking to make a difference in schools today, RE:THINKING is a "must see." Are we preparing students for a future that they are prepared for or one that we are comfortable with? RE:THINKING will challenge you to look beyond the traditional classroom and create a place where creativity and curiosity live, where risk-taking is encouraged and learning is a process, not an outcome. Preparing our students to be "thinkers", understanding that learning can be transferred, embraced and cultivated is necessary if we want to "revolutionize" education. Meaningful learning begins with fostering positive relationships that nurture and encourage student engagement. We need to create schools and classrooms where a culture of excellence is the norm. RE:THINKING examines how education can shape the future by investing in our greatest assets....our students. Put your thinking caps on!

    ~ Richard M. Hayzler

    Principal, Pequannock Valley School, New Jersey


    My favorite quotation is: When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change...


    The most emotional moment, of course; the NJ principal: Focus on the child, not the game.


    Positive reinforcements came flying at me like bluebirds. I was blessed to go to Bard as an undergraduate after some difficult high school years of loss and relocation. Bard asked me to think, pushed me to think, taught me multiple ways to enter text, and therefore, life. I am a person who focuses on thinking as if it is a game. I think because I can. Or as the one little girl says: You can think, no matter what. Thinking saved me, still does.


    I loved recurring themes:

    • Teachers are life guides.

    • Students are adults in training.

    • Learning is relational.

    • Listening to each other might save the world.

    • Shifting points of view, assuming multiple points of view, and allowing confusion so students have opportunities to think. Amen.

    • The notion of introducing a child to his or her mind and allowing him or her to create an identity, teaching children to accept that real learning is messy and that is a good thing.

    • The need for schools to change, for students to have relationships with their own mind and then with the world.

    • And then the metacognition that can happen within a class, a building, a town, the world-- when we release control, stop playing the game, and approach life openly.

    Thank you for sharing this with me. I was reminded of the good I did as a teacher at an historically black college, at middle and high schools public and private in Savannah, GA; the teaching I did at IC, IHS; and the administrative work I have done in South Seneca, ICSD, and Homer.


    I feel a surge of hope, inspired by this film.


    Current national and international events sometimes make me lose hope. Your film helped restore hope.

    ~ Lisa Harris

    Educator, Author, and Poet

    As one of the largest preparers of new teachers in New York State, we are always looking for ways to help our students expand their understanding of what teaching is. Years of research suggest that despite their preparation and on-going professional development, many teachers teach as they were taught. The beauty of a film like RE:THINKING is it helps parents, teachers and students to see what teaching in the twenty-first century can and should look like. When you hear the insights of the students, teachers and administrators in this film, you can't help but be inspired - and hopefully motivated - to implement a new way of teaching.

    ~ Andrea Lachance, Ph.D.

    Professor & Dean of the School of Education, State University of New York at Cortland

    RE:THINKING is a thought-provoking new documentary film about learning. Creativity and how we construct meaning from knowledge are competencies that are highly rewarded in today’s world. [Ry] Ferro says she hopes the film will be the “beginning of a movement to get thinking back into classrooms." What happens when teachers and students are “empowered to build knowledge instead of memorized information”? The film’s Directors, [Ry] Ferro and Deborah Hoard, looked at the innovative education approaches practiced by public schools to find out...

    ​~ Cathy Rubin

    Blogger, CMRubinWorld

    Love RE:THINKING! I’m a big advocate of “whole child” education. Congrats!

    ~ Scott Barry

    Director, Kaufman Imagination Institute, University of Pennsylvania

    RE:THINKING changed a part of me. It was as if I could almost reach out and touch a future where education and our schools could actually be for the love of knowledge and learning. It was so meaningful, that it felt like 'this is what I have always wanted – this is the society I want to live in, these would be the schools I would want to go to! I would want to attend the schools that foster independent thought and the love for learning all over again!' Most of all, RE:THINKING gives hope in a world full of pessimism. I thank you for showing this great work to me.


    ~ Arpit Chaturvedi

    CEO, Global Policy Insights

    Director, GPODS

    RE:THINKING is a powerful testament to educators consciously making space for young people to grow their capacity in critical and original thinking. Jefferson knew, Dewey promoted, Sizer and Meier furthered, and many others have known that our democracy depends on our educational system preparing young people to be thoughtful and critically awake citizens. In the current political and educational landscape, these lessons need to be urgently renewed, and absorbed. This is a must see for policymakers, school administrators, and the general public.


    ​~ Sebastian Ruth

    Brown University MacArthur fellow

    A key aspect that struck a powerful chord with me was the way in which students from primary through secondary school were encouraged to think independently and taught how to do so. In particular, I recommend RE:THINKING for educators who are interested in teaching students across the age span how to be more metacognitive.

    ~ Donna Wilson, Ph.D.


    RE:THINKING is a welcome call for progressive education and the essential skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and compassionate caring. Examples from actual classrooms, and conversations not only with leading educators and administrators, but also with young people, demonstrate an understanding of what it means to be in a progressive school. See this film and be inspired to act in your community to revitalize and support real education for the 21st century!

    ~ Dr. David Lehman

    Former Principal, Lehman Alternative Community School

    I love the film!!! RE:THINKING connects human nature with the ways people learn to learn, and in the course of doing it shows breathtaking examples of positive learning-and-thinking-focused schools. When students are treated as capable, responsible, and thoughtful, student-led classes enable engagement and a lot of impressive hard work that produces meaningful learning. I am going to have my own students screen this when I introduce my own rather similar methods, because it shows how exciting institutions of learning can be! (Warning: You may also fall in love with these kids.) "Students as adults in training” is how several students articulated their goals for the ideal high school. The teachers and administrators have such heart and such knowledge that everyone would want them to be their child’s educators, or for teachers and professors, to be our partners. Watch all the way to the end; this is the dream.

    ~ Susan Blum

    Professor of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

    The wandering/wondering toddler in the film is on a voyage of discovery and surprise, and so are we. In our fast-paced, hurry-up world RE:THINKING reminds us that the natural growth of a child is slow, and sometimes quite still. We remember—or note for the first time—that growing and learning are the natural condition of childhood, or more precisely, that living and learning are so intimately linked as to amount to the same thing: to live is to learn, and we are learning all the time, never so intensely as when we’re young. These little scientists enter the world with all five senses on full alert, taking in, trying out, broadcasting their discoveries, drawing conclusions, constructing knowledge built on experience. The adult task in all of this is not to fill them with what we take to be the oh-so-important information of the moment, but to support what’s already there, in wild abundance.

    ~ Bill Ayers

    Distinguished Professor of Education, Senior University Scholar, University of Illinois at Chicago

    RE:THINKING sheds light on how three schools are meeting educational standards while fostering critical thinking and educating the whole child. By not losing sight of individual students and their needs, RE:THINKING provides a beacon of what public education can and should be for all our students, while also inspiring current and future educators of what is possible in the current political landscape as it relates to our public schools. Provocative and insightful, RE:THINKING questions current assumptions about the purpose of our educational institutions and the role of teachers and students within the context of our current standards and assessment-driven system.


    ​~ Felice Atesoglu Russell, Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor of Education, Department of Education, Ithaca College

    Terrific. Thanks. You are the heirs to Dewey and Sizer and Debbie Meier and a few others. RE:THINKING is a well done portrait of schools doing what they are supposed to do! A terrific reminder that schooling in the USA was meant to create thoughtful citizens, and only secondarily, was it about getting students career and college ready! A persuasive reminder that cultivating thoughtfulness is much more important than achieving high test scores. Happily, if you do the former, you really don’t have to worry about the latter! What a pleasure it is to see teachers and schools that understand that the formation of good questions is worth far more than the provision of good answers! Vivid descriptions and instantiations of curricula that will surely provide the kind of adults needed in the USA! RE:THINKING is an anti-establishment film, now needed more than ever because the educational establishment—particularly its politicians and journalists--have gone so far astray. What is so impressive here is that the students are adults-in-training, rather than little 'memorizing machines'.

    ~ David C. Berliner

    Regents’ Professor Emeritus, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers, College Arizona State University


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