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By Melissa Ford
On October 2nd, the first showing of “Race to Nowhere,” a 90 minute documentary film about the out-of-control achievement culture permeating our schools and society, was viewed by a sold-out crowd at the Lake Theatre. I didn’t make that showing, but I’m getting a second chance on November 7th in River Forest.
To get a sneak peak, I checked out the film’s trailer. My attention was grabbed when I heard the comment: “We’re all caught up in it.” How true! Especially as my kids headed toward high school, I found myself caught up in what other parents around me were promoting: How many AP courses was your child taking? Was she getting extra coaching on the side so her sports play would improve? How about volunteer work? Was she playing an instrument?
Early on, I knew my kids couldn’t compete in the intensely competitive academic race so wanting to be a good parent, I encouraged sports; initially for fun and fitness. And, then one summer - OUT OF FEAR.
The summer before my daughter entered OPRF High School, I encouraged her to sign up for three sports camps which required playing six plus hours of sports a day. It was insane. Day after day, I drove her from one sporting event to the next and the next - until finally she developed shin splints and could barely walk! Seriously, what was I promoting? I wanted her to feel good about herself: accomplished, strong, successful, but when I really looked closely - my motivation behind all this activity was MY fear of her falling behind the other kids she was competing against.
Years later, my daughter and I laugh about that summer, but that was the turning point for me. Instead of operating from my fears, I started asking her what she truly wanted. And, I listened. Sure, I offered input, but the question became: What was the "happy" race she wanted to run - for herself?
We all get caught up in it! What "Race to Nowhere" is your child running?
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