'Race to Nowhere' so many worthwhile conversations

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By Laura Maychruk

OK, I saw the movie, then stayed for the discussion with the film producer afterwards.

It was powerful, I cried all the way through. The main point of the film in my opinion is that we are not allowing our children enough time to just be children, to play, explore, be independent and unsupervised. That the fact that we are, as parents putting our kids into too many activities on top of the fact that they already have hours of homework every night is causing our children to have anxiety, stomachaches, head aches, depression and even commit suicide...However, this was not the only issue that the film highlighted.

It also talked about our over-all philosophy of education, the mandated testing system that has been dictating what our kids learn, how they learn it and how quickly they need to learn it for over a decade.

It touches on other countries philosophies on learning and how much more successful those models are at turning out people that can think creatively, problem solve, invent etc...whereas our system seems to be able to barely turn out people who can read and write.

It brings up issues from the teacher perspective and how many teachers would love to do more, teach different things, but are not allowed due to the pressures on them to make sure their students can pass the tests that ensure funding for their school. It is a multifaceted issue and not an easy one to tackle.

The last time I wrote, I suspected that perhaps the film would be an advocate for changing our homework policy. In fact they quoted several statistics that back up the fact that homework is totally ineffective until middle school and even then only an hour a night showed any statistical advantage.

For the past week and a half I have been talking to others (mostly women) who saw the movie, and those who didn't see the movie about the issues that the film raised. Most are in agreement with the film and are now to the point where they want to implement some changes. They are ready to take the conversation to the next level: the teachers, principals and superintendents. Some, however, are ready to take a closer look at their own contributions to these problems. Perhaps they should take the pressure off of their children by not focusing on what grades their child is getting and let them have more "down time" and begin gathering their family regularly for dinner together.

I will be watching with great interest, the reverberations that this film has within our two communities to see what, if anything happens as a result. As for me, I have been scrutinizing my own parenting model and tweaking here and there but I know that there is a lot more I could be doing. The guilt is rising up in me even as I write this. My constant fear -- that I will do something unknowingly to harm my children in a permanent way--is on high alert. I fear that if I don't or can't implement enough change, my children will suffer the consequences...being a parent is the hardest job on earth...

Reader Comments

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still hear  

Posted: December 7th, 2010 1:10 PM

I've been told that globally, after homework is done, kids STUDY to learn. That's one of the differences between the U.S. and other countries. Do we teach our students HOW to STUDY? Is "How to study" the same as "HOW TO THINK?"

Lourdes from Oak Park  

Posted: October 13th, 2010 10:41 AM

Laura! I can't wait to see this. Thanks for the enthusiasm (as always)! I will be following your blog closely!

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