New film on creationists and the politicization of education: The Revisionaries (Update)

New film on science and creationism in schools explores how we find meaning in life.

Were There Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?
These and other questions are explored by the Texas School Board of Education in Scott Thurman’s riveting documentary The Revisionaries.

The Revisionaries is a story about a small town dentist who chairs the Texas Board of Education and the complexities of a creationist worldview applied to 21st Century politics and education.

For the short portrait, I intended to follow the teacher’s classroom instruction on evolution paralleled with more personal conversations about the role that science can play in giving context and meaning to our everyday lives.

After most school administrators blocked my access to the classroom due to the controversial nature of the issue, teachers turned my attention to the debates happening on the State Board of Education. I started filming at board meetings during the science standards review process, but stayed interested in finding a science teacher for the “face” of the film. Eventually I found the conversations and character traits I was looking for in Don McLeroy and Ron Wetherington, while two other main characters, Cynthia Dunbar and Kathy Miller, were developed as we took a closer look at the political strategies employed in the process of determining Texas’ educational standards.


The interviewer asks the filmmaker if he advocates any action steps from this movie that will surely fire some people up. He replies:

Although we don’t advertise any specific action steps, we hope the film motivates audiences throughout the country to become more aware of the public school standards in their own state and understand the importance of participating in state board of education elections.

Here is a blurb from the Tribeca film page:

First-time director Scott Thurman has captured a fascinating front-line snapshot of America’s “culture wars,” shining a deserved spotlight on this divisive and far-reaching process that puts sweeping power in the hands of a controversial few. Sure to be a conversation starter, The Revisionaries is a galvanizing peek behind the curtain at the politicization of education, and a microcosm of our politically and ideologically divided nation this election year. –Cara Cusumano

Sounds very intriguing. But, be sure to check out the op-ed by physicist Brian Greene that prompted the idea for the movie: Put a Little Science in Your Life Well worth a read and to take to heart. It’s our philosophy that science gives life context and meaning and it’s the best way of knowing. Others certainly disagree.

Don McLeroy was on The Colbert Report to speak about the film.

UPDATE (21-June-2012) Here is Vijay Dewan on NPR talking about the film.