A Touch of Greatness, trailer

In 2004, the PBS series Independent Lens televised a documentary about the late teacher Albert Cullum. It was entitled A Touch of Greatness, and it was unquestionably one of the most inspiring programs I have ever watched. Dr. Cullum’s classrooms were alive- electric, and his students were engrossed in learning. They wore costumes, performed scenes from Shakespeare in the woods, and watched chairs topple down from desks to understand physics and because Dr. Cullum said it was exciting to watch things fall. Robert Downey frequently videotaped the classes, and this footage is presented beautifully in the documentary. Former students speak throughout the piece, and they share stories about school, and mostly, about how Dr. Callum inspired them to be great.

In a time when aggressive testing methods are being hotly debated, it would be worthwhile for all educators (and educational policy makers) to watch this documentary so they remember what it was like to be young and impressionable, and also so they recognize that teachers and classroom environments plant seeds in children that grow their entire lives.

Directed by Leslie Sullivan and Produced by Catherine Gund

Independent Lens