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Alternative Math — David Maddox, 2017

A media frenzy ensues when a teacher dares to tell a pupil he's gotten the wrong answer.

In his math test, little Danny has put 22 as the answer to the question “What is 2 + 2?” When his teacher corrects him, he throws a tantrum and complains to his parents. The well-meaning math teacher now finds herself trumped by a post-fact America.

Classroom Activities

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  • How does the filmmaker establish a funny/comic tone? Think about the techniques used.
  • In the opening scene between Danny and Mrs. Wells, how does the filmmaker choose to introduce these characters? Think about the techniques used?
  • What effect does the repeating use of an establishing shot of the school have on the audience?
  • During Mrs. Wells’ meeting with the administrative board, what techniques does the filmmaker use to intimidate Mrs. Wells? How was the scene shot? What other techniques help highlight this feeling?
  • At the end of the film, how does the filmmaker show that Mrs. Wells finally won?


  • The film has a clear message about Trump’s “Fake News” America; what do we mean by this? Can you provide examples of this “Fake News”?
  • “Students Count Teachers Divide” and “God hates facts” are just two of the signs carried by the protesters outside the school. Firstly, can you think about what they mean by this in terms of schools in America? Secondly, can you think about how these could be related to schools where you live?
  • Can you compare the school depicted in the film to your school? How do they differ?
  • Education in different countries is different, each country has its own way of providing education. This can be based on their culture, politics or even economic reasons. Research education in different countries and using the facts and data you have; try to decide which country you think has the best educational system. This can be decided by classes taught (the curriculum), their success rate (grades), their school values, etc.



  • Imagine you are one of the angry parents. Write a letter to the local newspaper expressing your feelings about what Mrs Wells did.


  • You are going to create a short documentary film depicting life in your school. You can choose to show one full school day or one full week of school. Think about what you would want to show someone from another country. How accurately do you want to show school life? Remember to plan your short film in terms of narrative and how you plan to shoot. Use our Making a Film resource to help.


  • You have been commissioned to create a poster advertising the film. You are to give the audience an idea of what the film is about and to include images/information that will make them want to watch it.


  • You are going to play a game called “Two Lies and a Truth”. In your teams, make up two stories that are not true and tell one story that is true. The first group will tell their stories to the class in any order they wish. Once each story has been told, the remaining groups are allowed to ask questions about each of the stories to determine what is false and what is true. It is up to the team who is telling the stories to be convincing in their argument and answer any question that is asked. After each group has asked a total of 5 questions, they then must decide which story is the truth. The team that guesses correctly now must make up two stories and tell one that is true.


  • Role Play – One of you is going to be the teacher and the other is the pupil. You are going to choose a topic to debate about and research it. Once you have researched the teacher is going to tell the pupil what they know, and the pupil is going to do their best to debate the points the teacher makes.


  • Make a poster (or short film) for a 5-year-old, clearly explaining the reasons that 2 + 2 + 4.

Clip Details

Year of Production 2017
Genre Comedy
Curriculum Areas Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and English, Maths, Religious and Moral Education, Social Studies
Director David Maddox
Country of Origin USA
Medium / Content Live Action, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Feelings, Culture / Society, Work / Ambition, Intolerance / Misconceptions, Communication
Clip Length 09:04
Clip Length 09:04
Age Group S1-S3, S4-S6