|My mom and one of her biggest fans, Genevieve|
Have you seen this documentary, produced by Vicki Abeles? I finally saw it tonight at a showing at my school organized by another teacher (this is the only way to see it, I think). Though persuaded by some of my students the buy and wear a bracelet for $1 ("Stop Racing To Nowhere! Embrace Balance!"), I wasn't sure if I would like the film, which is about "the dark side of America's achievement culture." After all, I just recently watched another film (organized by another teacher at my school) called "2 Million Minutes," which documents how Americans (read: lazy Americans) are falling further and further behind other nations, and how our educational system needs to address this. But I loved Race to Nowhere, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I had tears in my eyes--as a teacher and as a parent--when the lights came on. The auditorium was dark and I only had scrap paper in my bag, but I managed to write down a few questions and comments from the movie. Here they are: "Kids come to us with a love of life and learning. Can we not take that away from them?" "Rates of adolescent anxiety and depression are soaring" "Kids are 'doing school' but are burnt out by college" "People who are successful aren't the ones who go to the top schools. They're persistent, very very persistent. And they really love what they're doing." "In today's educational system, the joy and wonder of learning is lost" And, finally: "Why can't happiness be as important as reading and math skills?"
I want my children, and my students, to be happy. Hard work is a part of that, yes, and so is mastering skills so important in today's world (math, literacy, communication, science). But Race to Nowhere is a powerful reminder that time with friends and family--and perhaps, most importantly, with ourselves--is just as important. Thank you, mom, for taking so much time and effort over the years to make sure that I ended up somewhere, and somewhere I liked. And thank you to produce and director Vicki Abeles as well, for repeating the message in such a powerful way.