25,635 MOMS HAVE JOINED
Education

FEEL THE BURNout: The Film “Race To Nowhere” Showcases School Stress

This film documents some American children and families struggling with the pressures that they face in school today.  The film notes that our kids are spending 7 hours a day in school being taught how to take tests and “perform” well, instead of learning how to learn.  Then, are given 6+ hours of homework, expected to participate in a sport or extracurricular activity, do community service and more.  Despite the amount of time they are dedicating to their education, sports and outside activities, the film shows how they are arriving unprepared for college and the workplace.

Some children are being over-scheduled to the point of physical illness, depression and despair.  The film advocates balance in kids’ lives and points out that too much homework increases the pressure on them, combined with unrealistic expectations of having to be the best at everything they do, and limits their time to fail and find their passions.  The film points to stress as a indicator of increasing teen suicide statistics.  The film challenges families, teachers and policy makers to have a conversation about learning and consider how to better prepare our kids to become happier, healthier people.  The film is currently being screened nationwide.

MOMism: Slow and steady wins the race.  Our kids are rushing here, there and every where, but where are they going?  Who are they racing against?  Who wins?  What is the trophy?  We are caught in this weird race to no where, really.  Our kids have no idea where they want to go, but they are moving a million miles a minute to get there. The movie did make us pause and should inspire authentic debate about the balance between success and failure and the importance of both in the learning process. 

Our teenagers need to slow down and figure out who they are…and who they want to be.  As a country, we are not winning the race against other countries because we are good test takers.  As a country, we need to be good thinkers and problem-solvers, so if our kids are simply good at memorizing answers, what happens when they actually have to figure something out and think outside the box a little?  Let’s pretend our kids do great at everything, exceed our wildest expectations, get into the college of their dreams, get the job of their dreams, marry the person of their dreams and then what?  Does that guarantee happiness?  How will they really know what their dreams are, if they don’t have time to daydream a little?

We try and teach our kids how to distinguish between things that really matter and things that are peripheral.  We need to show them what matters most, with our words and deeds.  Most of our kids are over-achieving because they think that is was WE want them to do…and what they need to do to get into the “best” college.  We need to re-evaluate the public school system, but we need to re-evaluate our parenting, too. We do. We need to make sure our kids have time to find their passions…have down time to do nothing…and we need to be their advocates in school and to follow their dreams.  Because what we are doing isn’t working for a lot of kids – some are too stressed and some have no motivation at all. 

Our kids are not in a race against each other and themselves to be perfect at everything.  They need time to be kids and to understand that running full speed all the time, is not the way to win in life. But, slowing down a bit to think and learn, and learn to think, is the path to real success.  After all, America is all about the dreamers, the innovators and the doers, so we need to encourage our kids to dream big, figure out how to make things and know out how to do things again…and then we all win!

6 Responses to FEEL THE BURNout: The Film “Race To Nowhere” Showcases School Stress

  1. Anonymous October 29, 2010 at 10:33 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    This is so true! My son is in the third grade and instead of teaching them the multiplication tables it is all about how many questions they can answer in 2 minutes. All the kids are freaked by this because for the past 3 or 4 years they have been in school they were taught to write neatly, erase and correct your mistakes, and take the time to understand the question.

    Even the teacher, who I think is FAB, knows she is acting like a USMC Sgt. drill instructor but this is what "No Child Left Behind" and "Race to the Top" has done for our schools. Something has to change and Mama's are where it starts!

    • Anonymous November 9, 2010 at 8:20 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Agreed. Our kids need a solid foundation of facts/factoids to use as a base for learning and learning how to learn. For example, if kids don't know their math facts, how will the learn conceptual geometry? If they don't understand history, how will they make the connection to what is going on today? So, it is BOTH. Spelling and math does require memorization…but, we also need to spark our kids curiosity and thirst for knowledge and give them the skills they need to learn how to learn.

  2. rochesternative October 31, 2010 at 8:29 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA
    Party MAMAs

    There is a time and a place to "think outside the box" but in elementary school the focus should be learning what is IN the box. Children under the age of 12 (usually) don't have critical reasoning skills so to try to teach them to think is often a waste of time. Besides, if we are teaching little/no content there is nothing to THINK ABOUT. Back in the days when kids memorized historical facts, multiplication tables and focused on decent handwriting we had students who were able to learn to think later on.
    A fantastic book from the mid '80's is the Hurried Child (David Elkind) I don't necessarily agree with his premise that children need to have complete freedom to play BUT we are rushing our kids to grow from children 2 tweens 2 teens…then they reach adulthood and are in shock…they have to WORK??? Testing is a necessary evil. W/O testing we cannot be assured that our kids are learning ANYTHING, but I say LESS critical thinking MORE focus on facts THEN they can learn to think. E.D Hirsch has written some fantastic books as part of the Core Knowledge Curriculum that are available just about everywhere called "What your child needs to know in __________ grade" Also The Knowledge Deficit shows us what our kids are NOT learning in this era of critical thinking.

  3. rochesternative October 31, 2010 at 8:37 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA
    Party MAMAs

    There is a time and a place to "think outside the box" but in elementary school the focus should be learning what is IN the box. Children under the age of 12 (usually) don't have critical reasoning skills so to try to teach them to think is often a waste of time. Besides, if we are teaching little/no content there is nothing to THINK ABOUT. Back in the days when kids memorized historical facts, multiplication tables and focused on decent handwriting we had students who were able to learn to think later on.
    A fantastic book from the mid '80's is the Hurried Child (David Elkind) I don't necessarily agree with his premise that children need to have complete freedom to play BUT we are rushing our kids to grow from children 2 tweens 2 teens…then they reach adulthood and are in shock…they have to WORK??? Testing is a necessary evil. W/O testing we cannot be assured that our kids are learning ANYTHING, but I say LESS critical thinking MORE focus on facts THEN they can learn to think. E.D Hirsch has written some fantastic books as part of the Core Knowledge Curriculum that are available just about everywhere called "What your child needs to know in __________ grade" Also The Knowledge Deficit shows us what our kids are NOT learning in this era of critical thinking.

  4. Anonymous November 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    What the media and the public fail to realize is that we are no longer a factory-based culture. We are still teaching in a industrialized system. We need to switch the paradigm of education to one of a non-timed based, performance-based, student-centered model. When our students are able to think in innovative, problem solving ways, they will be able to be successful in school and in life. Instead of doing more of the same, which Race to the Top requires, we need to come up with a whole new way of schooling our children.

    • Anonymous November 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      You should check out sir Ken Robinson's book "The Element"..the link is right in this chat room…he talks about exactly this..we have an outdated education system. Some private schools have caught on to this and are very focused on teaching critical thinking instead of wrote and to tests. So smart. Granted, at a very young age, they need to learn math facts and reading skills…but there is a way even for little ones, to reason things out age appropriately. Another thing that schools need to do is teach "the whole child." Traditional classes PLUS music, art, foreign language, science (labs) and phys. ed help kids not only to develop brains that will excel at trad. subjects, but find their special talent and interest. Kids develop different parts of their physical and mental selves at different rates and to only feed their brains with information does not help them become the well-rounded people they will need to be to compete/succeed as adults.

Leave a Reply