If you have kids, particularly in public high school, I recommend that you see the movie, Race to Nowhere if it is ever shown in your area. My daughter's high school held a screening last night. Essentially, the movie is about how we are forcing our kids to become little professionals - we expect them to perform not only in class, but also in extra-curriculars like sports, theatre and music to the point where no one has the time or inclination to just do this stuff for fun.
The movie showed the toll that this pressure is taking on a variety of fronts. The movie profiled a number of students, including a young lady who had always done well, but had trouble in a 9th grade math class, the teacher wouldn't help her, so she failed and spiraled into a deep depression, a middle schooler who wanted to end her life if it meant more years of hours of homework a night and a third grader who was getting stomach anxiety and headaches.
And of course, there was also the tragedy of a beautiful and accomplished 14 year old who took her life because she apparently felt that she couldn't be perfect. But it's just as bad for the teachers - one young woman who was a product of Oakland, CA schools had wanted to be a teacher all her life, and accomplished that dream. Yet, as she tried to share her love of literature and encourage her students to keep journals, she was forced to give a battery of tests to comply with No Child Left Behind. The kids did poorly on these tests, which was bad for their esteem, and her school received even less funding. She finally could not take the stress and left the school.
There was also some discussion of the impact of this on today's lawyers. One of the experts interviewed was a lawyer who had written a book on the problems with too much homework. She said that the students who come into the law today do not want to take chances, and lack the ability to think creatively - they want to be told what to do and how to do it because they have spent so much of their lives being coached on the field and the classroom.
And yet, as parents, it is so hard to stop the madness because we are afraid that our kids won't succeed if we don't push and push. This movie is a stark reminder that this approach is a bad idea.
You may watch the trailer of the documenetary film Race to Nowhere below.
Carolyn blogs at MyShingle.com and her contact information follows:
Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant
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