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Examine the need for more experimental programs like The Boys of Baraka where inner...

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joellle | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:42 AM via web

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Examine the need for more experimental programs like The Boys of Baraka where inner city boys were sent to Kenya to a boarding school.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 23, 2013 at 2:08 PM (Answer #1)

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The film makes it clear that new initiatives are needed.  The conditions in which millions of American children live in demands a need for change.  I would suggest that the need which the film brings out is how to address a stunning reality in our nation's inner cities.  Consider the statistics that the film presents as part of its exposition:

... 61 percent of Baltimore's African-American boys fail to graduate from high school; 50 percent of them go on to jail. Behind those grim figures lie the grimmer realities of streets ruled by drug dealers, families fractured by addiction and prison and a public school system seemingly surrendered to chaos.

The film makes the clear case that something needs to be done.  Certainly, the idea of taking children to a boarding school in Africa is not something that can be done for all of the children in our nation's urban areas.  It might not even be appropriate to do so because it concedes defeat to our urban centers, as opposed to seeking to make a legitimate change in a social condition where so many children have so little hope.

What the film does bring out that can be embraced is that children who live in such conditions need to be exposed to as much cultural difference as possible.  The film makes clear that when the boys experienced life in another cultural setting, their world and perception of their place in it changed.  This becomes "the blessing" in the boys' worlds.  The experiences showed how life can be as opposed to what life is.  This is where the need for more experimental programs is emphasized.  Whether or not one might be willing to enact more international programs like the film's is secondary.  The fact remains that the inherent barrier to which the film brings attention demands the need to try something, anything, to widen the horizons of children who live in a condition where such vistas are limited.  In the expansion of the moral and ethical imagination of the children who are cast as "throw- aways," the need for more experimental programs becomes evident.

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