The Ruling Classroom

Peter Bull, Alex Gibney

1979 | 00:57:38 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Documentary

The Ruling Classroom documents a social studies experiment played out by seventh graders in Mill Valley, California. The students reorganized their classroom as an imaginary country until the principal staged a coup and brought the classroom republic to a halt. The educational experiment was the brainchild of teacher George Muldoon, who suspended the normal social studies curriculum in order to let his students learn about government by constructing it for themselves. Bull and Gibney videotaped the proceedings using a verité approach coupled with after-school interviews with students. Over the course of the semester the make-believe society, like the one they would soon inherit, develops serious problems such as freedom of the press, white collar crime, economic monopolies, and unemployment. The tape was aired nationally on PBS and stirred up local controversy when the school’s principal called off the experiment after the video team uncovered a story about a teacher slapping a student. He then unsuccessfully tried to prevent the tape’s further release.

This title is only available on Surveying the First Decade: Volume 2.