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!