The Race to Nowhere

17 02 2011

The Race to Nowhere is a film that will make you think deeply about what a good education looks like.  It will challenge your beliefs about the nature of homework, AP classes, and college preparation.  You will re-think what a “successful kid” should do in middle school, high school, and college because, in many ways, what we as a society think about that fundamental question is dead wrong.

Whether you are a parent, teacher, or administrator, this is a must-see documentary because it points out some very powerful flaws in our educational system and offers some good solutions.  Unlike other recent films about American schools, it does not demand more from students, parents, and teachers; in many ways it asks for less.  It will get you thinking and talking.

There are more screenings popping up around the country, and it will eventually be a DVD to purchase.  Check it out.

If this trailer resonates with you, and you’d like a greater sense of what this movie is all about, here is what the filmmakers suggest parents do in response to their film:

Discuss what success means to your family. Do your actions as a family reflect your values?

Reduce performance pressure.

Avoid over-scheduling.

Allow time for play, family, friends, downtime and sleep.

Ask your children how they are feeling.

Allow your children to make mistakes and learn from them.

Dialogue with your children about their experiences in school.

Know the signs of childhood depression. Follow your instincts.

Attend school board meetings and other venues where education is discussed and policies are established and reinforced.

Form alliances and organize other parents to join you. As a group, talk to your children’s teachers, school administrators, and attend School Board meetings.

Challenge accepted homework practices and policies and the imposition of state and national standards that have narrowed curriculum.

Advocate for a later start time in high school.

Eat dinner regularly as a family.

Make college search  about finding the “right fit” rather than finding the “best” college. Finding the “right fit” will ensure college success and retention.


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2 responses

17 02 2011
a mom

Wow, this looks fantastic! I can’t wait to see what suggestions they have. It seems like the options right now are to be in the top/elite sports group and honors classes or in the “recreational” group. Why am I always asking where the happy medium is? Work hard, play hard, and enjoy the journey.

17 02 2011
wildcatteacher

I agree. We live in a culture of extremes. There are so few that seem to walk the line of wisdom between a slow, enjoyable life and the rat race of competition. This film is not about the kids and families that are laid-back or underachieving. It focuses on the ambitious, tightly-scheduled, stressed-out families. Unfortunately, it’s about a third of our country that is “racing to nowhere,” and if you live in an affluent area, it’s nearly everybody you know.

I think it’s so important to continually ask the question, “to what end?” In other words, to what end is my son playing select soccer? To what end would my daughter take 3 AP courses here junior year? To what end are we so busy that we don’t have dinner together all week? To what end is our college choice? Ultimately, why are we doing all these activities? Is less actually more?

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