The Roberto Clemente Community Academy Freshman IB MYP honors students and the junior Theory Of Knowledge students went on a field trip to see a film at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the Art Institute of Chicago. Students watched Do Not Resist, a documentary on the militarization of American police departments. The documentary taught the students how rapidly police departments have become militarized while combating crime and violence. Students saw behind-the-scenes footage of police departments, which included house raids, police training, and congressional hearings on funding. After the documentary, students engaged in a question and answer session with the director of the documentary, Craig Atkinson.
This film showed students the IB Learner Profile traits in practice. Students saw how an individual inquired about the rapid militarization of police departments throughout the country as seen during various protests in the past several years. This inquiry inspired Craig Atkinson to create a documentary to spread the word about how millions of tax dollars have been spent to fund these military resources for local police departments. Students saw local neighborhood house raids that often led to nothing and intense police training that mentally prepared officers for ‘war’. The film also shows how these resources came from wars overseas while providing local police officers very little training on how to operate the weapons or monitor the use of these wartime resources.
In the Q&A session, Clemente students asked thoughtful questions, looking to gain insight about the director’s intent. Students were able to Skype live with the director after the film and Craig Atkinson shared his inspiration for creating this documentary. One of the students asked, “What was your desired effect in creating this documentary and do you think this will bring about change?” This question demonstrated to Clemente teachers that students are truly becoming critical and reflective thinkers. Students walked away with a deeper understanding on how films and documentaries can effectively inform an audience about aspects of the world around them.