Constructing a Culture

Educational Screen Review for "Freedom to Learn"

“Can the freedom to learn be controlled and restricted and still be freedom?”

This is the opening question of the review of the film "Freedom to Learn" in the Summer 1954 issue of Educational Screen: The Audio-Visual Magazine. By this point, educational films had become a commonly used medium in classrooms across the U.S. and magazines such as Educational Screen and See and Hear regularly featured reviews for educational films. This film addresses what had become a very important question regarding educational freedom as the Life Adjustment Movement had gained popularity and McCarthyism had found its way into U.S. public schools. In the film, Mrs. Orin finds herself facing the school board to answer questions concerning her teaching of Communism to her social studies class.

"Freedom to Learn" was produced by Agrafilms, Inc. and directed by Irving Rusinow who had made over 100 films for organizations such as the National Education Association and Encyclopedia Britannica among others. Rusinow had already established himself as an award winning filmmaker by the time “Freedom to Learn” was made.[1] 

Freedom to Learn reminds us of the intensity of the fear of Communism being taught in schools as Mrs. Orin is reported by a concerned parent who finds notes about Communism in her daughter's notebook.

“No teacher can be the final judge of truth . . . This judgement remains for the decision and conscience of every free man.”

Watch "Freedom to Learn"
[1] “Irving Rusinow, 75, Dies,” The Washington Post, August 11, 1990. Accessed January 10, 2016,


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