What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ivory Tower is a well-made documentary that examines the rising cost of college and the growing debate over whether it's worth the hefty price of admission. Mixing interviews featuring students, professors, and administrators with information found through data mining, the film reveals the business side of higher education and posits that customers -- students -- may not be getting what they need. There's one brief scene with swearing ("s--t"); otherwise, the movie is completely appropriate for teens and up and should probably be mandatory viewing for high school students considering college (and their parents, too!).
What's the story?
IVORY TOWER goes beyond fancy brochures, dorm tours, and lecture hall visits to dig into the business of running a university, explaining the pursuit of impressive facilities to better compete with other institutions and attract the most talented faculty and the brightest students. All of that costs money, of course, and the documentary makes the case over and over that the price of a college education has risen faster than just about anything else in the U.S. economy. But is it worth it?
Is it any good?
Ivory Tower doesn't feel like your run-of-the-mill lecture: It's insightful, illuminating, and -- frankly -- distressing. (Just wait till you see the statistics.) Though it's pretty straightforward filmmaking (no surprises here), it will leave audiences wondering about the priorities of school officials, the future of education, and the financial burden placed on the next generation.
It does suffer a bit from lack of coherence, feeling a bit like several mini-documentaries stitched together. There's one segment on a student occupation at Cooper Union in New York, another on the emergence of online learning, another on student loan debt spiraling out of control, and more. They all paint a fairly bleak picture of higher learning, and it's clear the filmmakers have done their homework. But what's the solution? Is there one, even a kernel? (Besides Massive Open Online Courses, aka MOOCs?) Fascinating data will fascinate, but without vision, you may be left feeling a bit down and directionless. Still, this should be required viewing for anyone considering college.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about education. Do you think college is necessary today? Is it worth the cost?
What do you think will be the future of education? Will online courses ever replace real classes?
Is Ivory Tower objective? Does it have to be? Is it OK for documentaries to take an opinion on the subject they're covering?