Looking for best educational documentaries for students to watch it in your free times? Congrats… you are at the right spot.
Educational documentaries show the reality of teachers and students from other countries, societies and cultures.
We have selected a sample of works that can serve to reflect on education and generate discussions in class.
In addition, if you want to use the cinema in class as a didactic resource, we also recommend other articles such as films based on the figure of the teacher, shorts to educate in values , films based on Mathematics or based on Biology.
37+ Best Educational Documentaries for Students [2021 Edition]
Below are the list of best educational documentaries for students which is a must watch:
#1. Against Educational Lag
It analyzes the situation of the educational system in Mexico and the difficulties that some students have to face to study, either due to their personal economic situation (not being able to pay for books or transportation to school, having to make trips of several kilometers walking) or due to the lack of existing infrastructure in the country, the few resources that public education receives and the scarcity and poor training of teachers.
#2. The Children of the Red Light District
Zana Briski is a photojournalist who ventures into the red light district, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Calcutta, with the aim of investigating the living conditions of prostitutes and their children.
Briski is surprised by the innocence and happiness of children despite their low quality of life, and decides to teach the little ones to handle their camera, an activity that they are passionate about and they manage to take very good photos.
The focus of this documentary, recommended for high school students, focuses on demanding an improvement in the educational conditions of the children of this neighborhood, so that they can go to class and can leave their marginal environment and dissociate themselves from prostitution and violence .
#3. Collaboration: on the Edge of a New Paradigm
It analyzes the paradigm shift that has taken place in scientific development, education and learning, in part due to the irruption of the Internet in society.
Changes are taking place in traditional models: the scientist no longer isolates himself in the laboratory, but instead searches for information on the Internet, collaborates with other professionals and shares knowledge and points of view online, in work environments very different from those that exist in the collective imagination.
Education is also changing: new tools, new needs and new ways of working and learning are making their way.
#4. Miss Olga’s School
Olga and Leticia Cossettini were two teachers at a school in the Argentine city of Rosario.
This audiovisual presents the experience and point of view of students and classmates who attended class with these teachers, who applied a pedagogical model called ‘Escuela Serena’.
This model consists of betting on a comprehensive education and training in the child, not limited to the academic field and seeking to leave a mark on the student.
In this way, it is possible to make him grow as a person and teach him positive personal values to live in society.
#5. Girl Rising: Educate Girls. Change The World.
Nine girls from different parts of the world narrate their most difficult experiences: cases of child marriage, sexual and labor exploitation and violence in general, in many forms.
Once out of reach of these dangers, they managed to free themselves and fight for a better future for themselves and for all those who were in similar situations, thus breaking down the social and cultural barriers to which they were subjected.
This documentary allows us to reflect on these situations of injustice and is complementary to a project that fights for social integration and the right to education of girls all over the planet.
#6. Dream the Future
It travels through educational centers in the United States, France, England, Denmark, Spain and India in search of the answer to different questions related to the future of education and the need to adapt the educational curriculum to prepare students for the professions of the future .
The directors of the documentary raise the main ideas from the perspective that the current model is not adapted to the digital generation.
#7. NOT GOING. The School of the Future
The main objective of this documentary is to criticize the shortcomings of the United States educational system and seek possible solutions.
To find them, he uses the opinion of researchers and educators who agree on the need to create innovative environments based on advances in neuroscience.
In addition, they believe that teachers would be the linchpin of these environments, that they should seek the best tools for students to cope with changes in society.
#8. He called me Malala
An acid attack while riding the bus to school was the trigger for Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai to begin her fight to defend women’s right to education around the world.
Thanks to her, he won the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 16. This documentary tells his story and collects his struggle from a personal perspective and close to his figure.
#9. Waldorf Education, the documentary on education
The Inlakesh School, in Mexico City, has filmed this small educational documentary focused on Waldork pedagogy and which extends to some 3,000 schools in different parts of the world.
Students have the opportunity to learn more about what this center is and what it is about. As they themselves explain, their desire is “to form free human beings, who are capable of finding purpose and direction in their lives by themselves.”
#10. When I Feel Like I Already Know
It is a Brazilian documentary on educational innovation with Spanish subtitles that starts with the following question:
Is a happy and pleasant school possible?
Or does it have to be mandatory military service at seven years?
One of the issues that develops is related to failure and how at some point the school stops making sense for students.
#11. The value of education
The NGO Proyecto Juntos has recorded this documentary on education that takes the viewer to the city of Moshi, in Tanzania.
Through this piece, we learn about the personal stories of some young people and what it means and represents for them to go to school.
#12. Eye of water, a different look
It shows an innovative educational project in the town of Orba (Alicante), where children can develop following their own curiosity and interest, “because learning is not different from living,” say the authors.
This documentary on education reveals the experience of 15 years betting on an educational environment in which people decide how to use their time and what and when to learn.
The purpose is to create a relaxed environment free from external pressures, offering the opportunity to know themselves and discover their deepest life motivations. In Ojo de agua there is no predetermined set of knowledge that must be learned at a precise moment, but rather each person determines their intellectual, emotional, social or vital path.
#13. I Want to Help You
Made by Image and Communication students from 2nd year of ESO at IES Valle Inclán de Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, and in collaboration with many teachers from all over Spain, the documentary seeks to raise awareness about the importance of artistic manifestations in education and to promote the creativity in the classroom to train future professionals.
This document is directed by Sara López Sepúlveda, Drawing teacher, it shows, through a tender gaze, the importance of artistic education as an essential part of the educational process.
Erwin Wagenhofer, Austrian film director and writer, is the author of this documentary on education that seeks to expose the new educational models that are being forged and the scale of values that is promoted in these centers.
To do this, he travels through Europe and Asia and meets with experts such as Gerald Hüther, Arno Stern or Sir Ken Robinson. This has been the result!
#15. Gifted: East of Gaussian Bell
Directed by Luis Mora and Adolpho Cañadas, this documentary brings together the opinions of highly capable adults about the educational system in which they learned, as well as their vision of parents, teachers and experts, to account for the difficult integration they faced in schools with the aim of not repeating mistakes.
#16. Finland’s Educational Success
This documentary is the work of the American documentary filmmaker and writer, Michael Moore, known for his progressive stance and critical vision of globalization.
In this work, Moore analyzes the basic points of Finnish education, comparing it with the American one and reveals his top secret to rise to the first position in terms of Education: his students have no homework.
Moore meets with industry leaders such as the Finnish Minister of Education, as well as teachers and students who talk about their personal and professional experience.
#17. The Waltz of the Useless
This documentary, directed by Edison Cajas, graduated in Philosophy and filmmaker from the University of Chile, deals with the Chilean student movement through two parallel stories: a teenager immersed in the political climate of his center and an ex-prisoner of the dictatorship of Pinochet.
Through his day to day, Cajas analyzes the events that took place during this time full of demonstrations and social protests.
#18. Ghada’s journey
It tries to sensitize the general public and children in particular about the current migration problem through the story of two refugee girls.
The objective is that the little ones become aware that there are other children who are having a very bad time because of something they have not chosen: war.
The work is the result of Manuel Villar Paniagua, Primary Teacher at the Ventin – Milladoiro School in Ames (A Coruña), and has had the collaboration of several teachers, as well as the caretaker and parents of the school’s students.
#19. Être et Avoir (To be and to have)
Directed by Nicolás Philiberten and released in 2002, this documentary talks about the real life of a teacher who teaches children of different ages (between 4 and 10 years old) in a school in a French town.
With a calm and serious personality, Georges López fosters in them values such as love for nature or friendship, listens to their problems and mediates their disputes, with the aim of guiding them towards adolescence.
All this makes the viewer reflect on the work and dedication of the teachers.
#20. Waiting a Superman
Davis Guggenheim is the director of this documentary that shows the problems of the American educational system, described by Bill Gates as disastrous.
Released in 2010, it reflects on the differences between public and private schools, good and bad teachers, the educational learning problem and all the different alternatives of action through the points of view of teachers, parents, authorities, unions, governments and students themselves.
#21. The Teacher is the Child
The documentary exposes the values, the implementation and the challenges of Montessori pedagogy, through the daily life of a class of children.
The main objective is to contextualize the difficulties and challenges that a teacher must face in their class.
The voice-over narrates the keys to understanding the values and the functioning of this pedagogy, with the appearance of María Montessori herself. The documentary, which plans to premiere in late fall, has asked for a financial collaboration in order to move forward with the project.
#22. Forbidden education
It is a reflection on the criticism that education has suffered over the years.
The film, directed by Germán Doin, released in 2012, collects the educational initiatives of eight Latin American countries, explores their ideas and makes visible the experiences that have dared to change the structures of the educational model of the traditional school.
#23. The Finnish Phenomenon
Created by Bob Compton, this documentary released in 2011 describes the Finnish education system, one of the most valued models in the world, where students study less, have fewer tasks and teachers have a more competitive salary and are more involved in their job. The documentary reveals the factors and keys to the success of the Finnish methodology.
#24. Between Teachers
Pablo Usón has brought to the screen the methodology of Professor Carlos González, which is based on teaching students to discover the world through self-knowledge.
After exercising his profession as a secondary school teacher for twenty-four years, Carlos decided to abandon a system in which he no longer believed.
In the documentary, the method is tested with eleven students selected from Secondary to live the experience in a twelve-day workshop.
#25. Teach me but pretty
The documentary shows different alternative educational experiences to the traditional learning model. It aims to make visible and open a debate on the main current teaching methods in our country.
This film puts its grain of sand in the work for a pedagogical renewal, through critical thoughts, real experiences that are developed in and for freedom.
#26. Coría and the sea
This documentary addresses the difficult situation of Sahrawi women living in refugee camps. Although it mixes reality and part of fiction, it reflects the harsh conditions of the youngest in these camps.
It does not deal specifically with the educational field, but shows the scarcity of resources available in the makeshift schools that they manage to set up.
#27. Japan: Failure forbidden
This work addresses another extreme of education, that of excessive teaching. It explains the specific case of Japan, in which society pressures children to achieve a perfect curriculum. The time for leisure and rest is secondary, the prevailing idea is to stand out academically; failure is not seen as an option.
#28. The Good Lie
Although it is a film and not a regular documentary, this film based on real events shows how difficult it is for refugee children to adapt as they grow older.
The film centers on a group of Sudanese children fleeing their country at war searching.
Over the years, and older, they manage to be granted their relocation in the United States, but the complicated childhood that they had to live will make it very difficult for them to adapt to the modern world, so they will need the help of a social worker.
Its director, Philippe Falardeau, selected Sudanese refugees who had been child soldiers to play these roles and thus achieve greater involvement in his project.
#29. Way to School
Pascal Plisson recounts in this film the story of four children from India, Morocco, Kenya and Argentina for whom going to school is quite an adventure.
Each of them has to go a long way to get to school, but despite this, their desire to learn does not wane, and they do it day after day.
#30. Oscar’s Land
Álex Zapico and Juan Tizón have produced this documentary for the NGO DASS with the support of the Asturian Collaboration Agency.
In the piece, narrated with the voice of the students of the Jovellanos Public School in Gijón, it shows the daily routine of Óscar, a boy who lives in a village in Mali.
It is observed that despite being a child, like the students who narrate the story, his life is very different and something as simple as going to school here is, in Africa it is not so accessible.
#31. Street Newspapers
Like one of the previous examples, this is a film and not a documentary as such, but it reflects reality in a very instructive way.
Education in centers that bring together the most disadvantaged, belonging to poor neighborhoods and even pushed to form part of criminal gangs, can become a practically impossible task, since the educational system tends to throw in the towel with these types of individuals.
This piece tells the true story of a teacher who decided not to give up on these young people and managed to motivate them to take education seriously.
#32. The Autistic Maze
Autism spectrum disorder is one of the most difficult problems to deal with in the classroom, because communication between the teacher and the student in question is greatly diminished.
The documentary created by ‘Documentos TV’ revolves around the importance of identifying when a student or child suffers from this disease, since establishing a focused and individualized education is crucial for their optimal development as a person.
#33. TEACHERS. The Good Education
It is a documentary that revolves around the figure of the teacher, and the importance of their work not only in the future of children as individuals but of society as a whole. It invites us to reflect on the impact of the teachers’ actions and the responsibility that falls on them.
#34. A crime Called Education
This work reflects on a large number of aspects that could be improved in education, as it is proposed today. These aspects are reproduced by both teachers and students, which is why this documentary tries to portray the educational system as an obsolete system that needs root changes.
#35. Education in the Future
It deals with the ways in which new technologies will be implemented in the educational system of the future, as well as the changing role of the teacher and the extent to which new discoveries will affect both the learning and life of tomorrow.
Without a doubt, an interesting reflection that can generate a very instructive class discussion.
#36. The School of Silence
Created by Unicef Peru, it offers a look at the gender inequality present in the educational system of this Latin American country.
The government has practically no concern about this problem, which allows machismo to be present in society and, therefore, in education, pushing the youngest to reproduce these gender stereotypes.
#37. China, the Asian Giant. Education, the Key to Progress
It revolves around the way in which China, one of the most overcrowded countries, focuses education towards success, and how this type of approach generates great pressure on the country’s young students.
A great reflection on how an educational system can become a system for the production of intellectual powers, which makes its education a very rigid and strict method that drastically affects the behavior of students.
#38. The Bad Kids
Released in 2016, the documentary transports the viewer to a secondary school in the Mojave Desert, where teachers take a non-traditional approach to help students change their lives, as they are at risk of educational exclusion.
It shows education as a useful instrument to stop the reproduction of the lifestyle of those young people classified as ‘bad boys’.
Note: You can watch documentaries @YouTube
Hope you watched and enjoyed all time best educational documentaries for students.