An Unconventional Science Lesson

By Ivan Kander

If there is one trope that Hollywood has completely run into the ground, it’s that of the unconventional teacher who miraculously touches the hearts of his jaded students. At first glance, Zack Conkle’s short documentary, Wright’s Law, may appear to be of the same hackneyed ilk. But, as you start to watch, you quickly realize that the film is anything but cliché.

Jeffrey Wright, a physics teacher at a Louisville High School, is zany and creative. He’s the “fun” teacher — the guy whose class makes science cool. But Wright is more than just an eccentric teacher with unorthodox lesson plans. He is also the father of a son with special needs, and it’s this personal story that allows him to connect to his students in a way that goes far beyond facts and formulas.

Director Conkle (a former student of Wright's) crafts a short profile documentary that is remarkably assured in its storytelling style. We watch as Wright calmly addresses his students and relates his own story — one that starts with frustration and anger, but ultimately ends with compassion and understanding. Wright’s role as a science teacher may put him in a position to understand how the world works physically, but, as he reveals, it’s his belief in love and personal connections that makes living in that world worthwhile.

For more work by Zack Conkle, visit http://www.zackconkle.com/.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2013/05/an-unconventional-science-lesson/276340/