An ideal educational institution?


I have just caught a movie Accepted (2006) and find it to be a very insightful film.

In the film, a student Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) is rejected by all the colleges that he has applied for. In a bid to gain acceptance by others (which includes his parents), he came up with an idea of creating a college (South Harmon Institute of Technology) which has accepted him. One thing leads to another, and soon Bartleyby has a physical building, a website and a dean (which is his friend). However, things take a turn for the worse when news of the “new college” leaked out and soon, students who have been rejected by all the other educational institutions start turning up at the bogus campus, leaving Bartleyby confused about what to do next. Confusion soon turns to enlightenment though, as Bartleby began to devise a plan to get the college up and running. There is a catch though: the dean of another college Harmon decides to expose Bartleby and his bogus college to the authorities.

This basically sums up the storyline for this movie. What’s interesting about this movie is as follows:

  • Learning preferences: At South Harmon Institute of Technology, students are given the freedom and flexibility to learn subjects of their interest instead of the other way round (being confined by syllabus and subjects offered at school level).
  • Students as teachers: Students at South Harmon Institute of Technology are teachers, as they teach and learn from one another. While this possibility of students as teachers may hint at the possibility of teachers/educators being redundant, I believe that educators are here to stay, since guidance is still required to be provided to students.  Nevertheless, educators will no longer teach but facilitate/guide the students’ learning process, with much humility.
  • Culture of acceptance: In the movie, all the students feel accepted at South Harmon Institute of Technology where previously, they are considered as academic rejects. This movie strives to bring the plight of these groups of students to light by highlighting the sentiments of these students and illustrating the fact that these students are talented, albeit in different ways.
  • Conventional versus contemporary education system: In the final courtroom scene, a clear contrast can be seen between the two sparring parties: a traditional academic committee bent on bringing down the bogus college (with its demand for a conventional educational institution based on the provision of proper facilities, syllabus and teaching staff) against a contemporary (almost avant-garde) teaching system (with no use of any pre-defined syllabus, fixed facilities and teachers [where the students themselves are one] ). It’s about time that educators and school administrators rethink about the current educational system.
  • Speaking one’s mind: In traditional and conventional education systems, students are encouraged to conform to the protocol of typical classroom learning, one of which is agreeing with their class mates to ensure cohesiveness and consensual agreement. However, this has resulted in creativity being stifled and ideas being brought down even before they are raised. South Harmon Institute of Technology goes against this conventional culture and promotes individual and group participation.

All in all, “Accepted” is a very good watch and I will recommend this movie to educators and students alike.


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