Race to Nowhere: A Film to Make Us Think

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GeekMom Amy Kraft wrote awhile back about the crazy-making process of getting her child into the “right” school:

My daughter just started Kindergarten at a New York City public school. The process of getting her there began when she was two years old and I started touring schools, fearing that if I didn’t like any of the possibilities we’d need time to move. The past year has felt like a part-time job, my time filled with tours, applications, and even an essay. Fortunately, we’re zoned for a pretty good school, but children in the zone had previously been waitlisted for reasons of overcrowding. Gifted and talented testing (yes, taking your 4-year-old for a standardized test) can open up more options.

This is just one example of a parent trying to do the best she can do for her child, but I’ve heard this story over and over again. Moms and dads are trying to work with a broken system to help their children thrive. Parents today are expected to raise high-achieving children, skilled in a multitude of talents, all at the highest levels, to respond to today’s tough challenges.

But is this the answer? Bombarded by academic standards, competition for educational opportunities and run-away schedules, young people struggle to accommodate the intense demands. They’re getting stressed. They’re getting ill. And some are committing suicide.

Vicki Abeles became so concerned with the culture of hollow achievement and pressure to perform that has invaded Americaʼs schools that she created a documentary about it. In Race to Nowhere, the mother turned filmmaker suggests that the American education system is destroying our childrenʼs love of learning and feeding an epidemic of unprepared, disengaged, and unhealthy students.

I’m crossing my fingers that this film will make its way to my local, independent movie theater, but I’ve added it to my Netflix queue just in case.

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2 thoughts on “Race to Nowhere: A Film to Make Us Think

  1. In trying to help my 3 year old learn, I think back to my own childhood. I learned best through exploration and play. Even in high school and college, the classes I remember the most from were those that had elements of open discussion and creativity.

    So for my daughter I look for toys and games that encourage her to learn through play, and give her opportunities to be creative. And she frequently surprises me on what she learns.

    I have a few local charter schools that might work for her – but I’m not going to stress about it. There are tons of things I want to teach her and want to see her excel at, but I also want her to have fun and enjoy being a kid.

    Being a helicopter parent this early doesn’t help anyone.

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