Dream School, a six-episode series featuring 15 troubled students who are given a very snazzy second chance at an education, starts this week on the Sundance Channel.
Rapper 50 Cent and UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver are executive producers of the series, which features celebrities joining teachers to create a Dream School. Among the famous teachers are filmmaker Oliver Stone, astronaut Mae Jemison, actor David Arquette and financial expert Suze Orman. They are tasked with working with real teachers to get the kids to pass four tests in four weeks to earn 10 high school credits.
The facilities are, as principal Steven Keller says, “to die for.” There is a swimming pool, beautiful grounds, and brand new equipment. The students, all of whom are 17 or 18, have either been expelled from or they dropped out of a conventional school system. So can a trip to a recording studio with Swizz Beats help them? Will ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau get through to them with a physics lesson about buoyancy in water?
In the first episode, Oliver Stone is seen failing miserably as he teaches a history lesson. Students are falling asleep and bored. At the same time, one student refuses to stop smoking cigarettes and another skips school to go to a music festival. While star-studded and impressive, the school doesn’t seem to be reaching the kids. They constantly push the rules and the limits even in their posh surroundings.
Near the end of the first hour, the first test is administered. And the results are “deplorable,” says Keller. Looks like it’ll be back to the drawing board for the stars if they want to motivate and teach these teens.
The program offers an interesting premise, but also shows that while famous names impressed the kids at first, celebrity isn’t the answer to anything. A good teacher—one who inspires and activates passion for learning—along with a support system outside of school that values education is what really matters.
Tune in to see the challenges, as they unfold in episode one. Then, we’ll have to stick with the show to see whether it’s all a dream come true – or a disaster – by the end of six weeks.
Dream School premieres on Monday, Oct. 7, at 10:00 p.m. on the Sundance Channel.