Directors: James Redford
Runtime: 104 minutes
Genres: Documentary, Education, Sociology, Violence
"Stressed brains can't learn." That was the nugget of neuroscience that Jim Sporleder, principal of a high school riddled with violence, drugs, and truancy, took away from an educational conference in 2010. Three years later, the number of fights at Lincoln Alternative High School had gone down by 75% and the graduation rate had increased fivefold. Paper Tigers is the story of how one school made such dramatic progress.
Following six students over the course of a school year, we see Lincoln's staff try a new approach to discipline: one based on understanding and treatment rather than judgment and suspension. Using a combination of verite and revealing diary cam footage, Paper Tigers is a testament to what the latest development science is showing: that just one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person's life.