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Subnormal

 (17)6.960min2021X-RayUHD13+
Examining one of the biggest scandals in the history of British education, Subnormal: A British Scandal reveals how Black children in the 1960s-70s were disproportionately sent to schools for the so-called “educationally subnormal.” This gripping documentary recounts how Black parents, teachers and activists banded together to expose the injustice and force the education system to change
Directors
Lyttanya Shannon
Genres
Documentary
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]

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Producers
Steve McQueenJames RoganSoleta RoganTracey Scoffield
Content advisory
Violencefoul language
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

17 global ratings

  1. 54% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 13% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 18% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 8% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

LodestarReviewed in the United States on September 19, 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
Exactly as expected
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As a child I went from gifted and talented to being pushed to the back and set aside. I yo-yo'd back and forth through different education systems (over 12 different schools all over the world) until graduating with a low GPA (I had no ambition whatsoever). I loved C's and D's because they required the least and still moved you along, so I tried, aimed for them. When I later decided to attend university and took the required test, 6 years out of school with zero prep, I scored better than 75% of the entering class at the university that readily accepted me. If I had been a minority, society would look for answers there (and always does), but I was just another latch key kid without direction. My problem was not taking accountability for my own future (regardless of what my parents or teachers did) and this documentary makes the same mistake and projects it and then attempts to charge interest on the debt! The only reason I was able to surmount the obstacles our broken systems heap upon ALL kids, was my actual love of learning that has been so abstracted from standardized "education." Lucky for my kids, the first thing I taught them was how to learn independently.
9 people found this helpful
SusieReviewed in the United States on October 4, 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
This is what happens when you listen to progressives and empower government to make decisions.
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Here in the US we've been dumbing down the entire population since 1970, rather than admitting that everyone isn't equal. A professor at UCLA ( Gordon Klein ) was recently fired for not offering blacks a pass on finals, and this in the " equality focused " atmosphere of UCLA. Man, it's fun to watch progressives crawl up their own asses. The answers are easy, control immigration, create cultural immersion programs for those entering a new society, maintain universal standards and give up your communist equality crap.
Look at the train wreck our education system has become and understand that this is what happens when you leave decisions to the same fn bone heads who told us " 4 out of 5 doctors recommend Lucky strike" and don't eat the butter, instead eat flavored hydrogenated vegetable oil, salt is hardening your arteries, peak oil in 1970, the coming ice age in the 70s, global warming in the 80s, climate change in the 90s. PHD stands for piled higher and deeper. That last three years is used to excise the common sense. Look at all the PHDs that lined up behind that whack job charlatan Al Gore. Remember him? The guy who predicted the end if we didn't fix atmospheric carbon by 2009, then moved the date to 2015 when nothing happened.

Just think, and don't listen to those idiot progressives. Treat everyone the same and let them progress at whatever pace they can.
One person found this helpful
AnonymiceReviewed in the United States on October 12, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Specific British Issue
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Although I know other countries have had to come to grips with racial categorizing of children. This BBC doc carefully describes the problem and what the parents did to remedy it, although I think some of this info is well known by now (I didn't know about the racial policy, though). It's well known now that the IQ tests we were given, also in the US, from the 50s to probably the 80s, included elements that would be regarded as achievement tests and also relying on the child's background and language, i.e., their parents' educational level. sociology-economic class, parents' involvement in their children's early learning, etc. But it's good to know that it was a policy of the British government, which codified it to an even higher degree. So of course they often favored middle class and higher kids. However, I experienced, and saw other white kids, usually rural or in poverty, with the same problems who were usually considered "slow", as a group. The same could be said of immigrants, whether from Europe or developing countries.

I was fortunate to meet a teacher at church, when I was in high school, who took me, for a day, to his "Black" high school on the other side of town. He taught me about family educational "background" and the effect it had upon learning and it showed me how much my much high tax base school was superior to his poverty tax based school (less equipment, low maintenance, crumbling, old texts, etc). It was a lesson I've never forgotten and bless that man for making one kid at a time aware of these differences. I had no other way to know these things, as my city was completely segregated. Not just Jim Crow, but people of color didn't even cross the tracks. So I had never met a person of color and was told that they were just "like that" because they were inferior. My school was in an "independent" school district, thus avoided integration for decades, as it those districts were designed to do back then.

I'm not an immigrant, but I know many of us have had the unpleasant experience of moving schools and going to one more advanced than the previous school and being very behind. My worst experience was mid-year of 3rd grade. My new teacher completely bullied me, intentionally mis-pronouncing my name the rest of the year and calling me out in class constantly for being "dumb". She had a "dog house" on the wall and kids names with the worst grades would get put into it. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in it and I have felt the lack of confidence caused by the teacher's daily ridicule all my adult life. Luckily, I had parents who fought for me and worked with me every night and provided me with an enriched environment of science books, educational toys, etc. But what if they had been poor, and/or uneducated? Too exhausted from manual labor to fight with the teacher and school system? No money for books or educational toys, or perhaps not having the background to even realize I needed them? My grandfather had only a 3rd grade education, so I know he would have just given me the belt if I had been his kid, and please don't bother him after a hard day of work at the machine shop and why would I need special toys?

I had my own unpleasant brush with special ed. I missed a lot of school, due to illness, in 1st and 2nd grade, so of course my reading skills were behind, even though I was relatively bright. By the 6th grade, they put me "remedial reading", with the developmentally disabled and kids with "behavioral" problems (before dyslexia was a diagnosed). It was crushing. But, luckily, it brought me up to speed and next semester I was put into an honors reading class. So I was basically very good at reading, just wasn't up to my grade level, as I missed a lot of those crucial classes.

As bad as those experiences were, at least I wasn't pigeonholed in them forever, and due to the privilege of color, economic and social class, was able to easily move up and out of those situations to success. Classroom placement and level was completely based on those IQ tests, and as such, a class system of IQ was born. I honestly don't remember taking the IQ test and was young enough that I was probably thinking of going home to play and didn't take it seriously, plus I couldn't yet read well. I didn't know it would direct the rest of my secondary education (and thus quality/difficulty of education and self-image)! And this is exactly the problem outlined in this doc.

Anything that ranks us without frequent re-assessment (or by our skin color, culture, language) is just a class system, and a system of superiority much like the British class system, with no mobility out. So it makes sense that Black immigrants were pigeonholed in the UK as shown here. The legacy of colonialism and racial superiority. At least in the US, we were taught about upward mobility, and allowed to dream high. Well, if white, anyway. I lived in the UK in the 70s and got to know some kids from the "bad" side of town. It was so sad that they had no hope for the future, no way to go to college, and no desire, as why desire something you can't have? They were taught that it was morally bad to try and exceed your class of birth. "Who do you think you are?" And told that by your family, as it was burned into the generations and neighborhoods. But they were white, so imagine how much worse for Black kids? The legacy of African and Indian colonization and that Black people were below the British was very strong (and still is, I think). As strong as the legacy of slavery and our current views toward immigration in the US.

This is long because I wanted to counter the 1*, racist reviews here with some examples. I say racist, because they are and the ones so far are not about the quality of the doc, but their racial anger. Blaming the state of the educational system on people of color is such a bad meme used for so long. But there are actual reasons based in reality having nothing to do with integrated schools. If you sit around and complain, flee to charter schools, private schools, or home school your kids in protest, you've done nothing to change anything and root out the problems, thus you become the problem. If you don't support higher teacher pay, conditions, and school budgets, then you are part of the problem. I guess it's easier to sit back and blame skin color and other cultures than to actually do something. Giving everyone opportunity would make our country wealthier and even makes white lives better. Discrimination and racism hurts everyone, not just people of color. There's enough for us all. The outdated idea that immigrants take something from us and that there's a finite amount of success hasn't been true since we lived in caves.
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on September 29, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
WE LIVE IN AN UNFAIR WORLD
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THIS DOCUMENTARY WAS REDUNDANT TO ME. A MAJORITY OF MY FAMILY WERE SELF TAUGHT, UNABLE TO ATTEND SCHOOL OR HAD TO DROP OUT AT A YOUNG AGE TO WORK TO KEEP THE FAMILY IN SURVIVAL MODE. I'VE ATTENDED SCHOOLS WHERE IT IS CLEAR THEY HAVE AN AGENDA. ONCE YOU LEARN TO READ, WRITE, MATH SKILLS AND SOME COMPUTING/TYPING SKILLS, IT IS BEST TO FIND YOUR PEOPLE. IF YOU WANT TO BE A PART OF ANYTHING AND THOSE PEOPLE DO NOT WANT YOU, FIND ANOTHER WAY. THERE IS SO MUCH PROPAGANDA OUT THERE. EVERY INSTITUTION ON EARTH IS CONTROLLED AND FILLED WITH NEPOTISM. I TAUGHT MYSELF MANY SKILLS, WHICH CAN ALSO BE TAUGHT VIA FREE APPRENTICESHIP IF YOU ARE BLESSED WITH THAT OPPORTUNITY. THE MAJORITY HUMANS HAVE BEEN TREATED POORLY....NO MATTER WHAT COLOR, RACE, CREED OR GENDER. HAVE A BEAUTIFUL DAY.
judyNReviewed in the United States on September 30, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
It is 2021 and all US public schools are 100% "special"
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I like the way this documentary is laid out. Very powerful and creditable. It is now 2021 and the public schools in the US have become 100% "special". Charter or Private schools are now used for lower education. College is now so expensive that it has become a barrier to entry for the lower and middle income folks . In addition, white women and peoples of color are still discriminated against in all other areas; but, it has become more subtle ( for example, in the US we no longer say "Hatred of women" instead we say "domestic violence" ). Maybe Humanity will someday learn; but, I doubt it
RoKReviewed in the United States on September 19, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
informative
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i found it very informative to see what educational system is like in other countries for immigrants, other than u.s.
4 people found this helpful
FleurReviewed in the United States on October 5, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Really Good Watch
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Many forms of this is still going on in US schools today, sadly.
2 people found this helpful
Rick BReviewed in the United States on September 22, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Enlightening
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Brought a new perspective to relavent issues today in the US with honors-level and AP courses. Reminds me that US founders we're Brits before the declaration
3 people found this helpful
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