The Learning

In this surprising and moving documentary, filmmaker Ramona Diaz (director of Imelda) tells a little-known story of public school teachers recruited from the Philippines to assume hard-to-fill teaching posts in American schools. Following her Filipina protagonists to their new country and into the classroom, Diaz renders a powerful group portrait, a timely and unusual immigration story, and an implicit portrait of the stresses in the American public education system. This screening is a collaboration with POV, the award-winning independent non-fiction film series on PBS.


Filmmaker Ramona Diaz sits down with POV to discuss her new film ‘The Learning.’ Following the live of four Filipina women as they leave the Philippines to teach in the Baltimore public school system, Diaz hopes her film raises questions about the social costs and culture shock experienced by many immigrants.


One hundred years ago, American teachers established the English-speaking public school system of the Philippines. Now, in a striking turnabout, American schools are recruiting Filipino teachers. “The Learning” is the story of four Filipino women who reluctantly leave their families and schools to teach in Baltimore. Their ideals about America, however, soon clash with Baltimore’s tough realities.


In this exclusive clip from ‘The Learning,’ Rhea, an immigrant teacher from the Philippines, talks about the future with her students. She asks each of the students what they wish to be when they grow up, as well as what they are going to do over the summer as the school year is close to over. A student’s prediction about another student’s future profession, however, catches her off guard.


Preparing for the MSA
In this exclusive clip from ‘The Learning,’ Angel, an immigrant teacher from the Philippines, prepares students in her class for a standardized test for Maryland public schools. She expresses her desire for her students to do well, but also describes her love of teaching after the test is taken, when she can focus on learning skills for life rather than just for test day.


The Fruits of Baltimore
In this clip from ‘The Learning,’ the teachers return home to the Philippines and realize the fruits of their labors. Their higher salaries improve the standard of living for their families, but as one explains, they cannot pull their families from “rags to riches” all by themselves.


‘The Learning’ Follows Teachers From the Philippines to Baltimore
In the new documentary, “The Learning,” filmmaker Ramona Diaz follows four Filipina women facing their first year as teachers in Baltimore’s public schools. This excerpt is part of The Economist Film Project, a series of independently produced films aired in partnership between The Economist and the NewsHour.

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