May 4, 2011

Race to Nowhere - Movie Review



I was able to attend a viewing of this film last week. I am not really sure if I feel fortunate to have been able to or not as I felt sick to my stomach as I was watching this movie. It was seriously disturbing to me.
 
I was with two other home ed moms - more on the unschooling side than me and with much younger children- and before the movie started we were given an article - http://www.chicagoparent.com/community/the-self-aware-parent/2011/march/let's-be-clear---what-do-we-really-want-for-our-children and as we read through it one of the mom's said to me "Are there people who really think this way? I guess I just don't encounter them." I assured here that there were.
 
The movie goes into detail about the stress that is put on children and the extremes that these children and parents are willing to go through in order to get into colleges, pass the tests and get good grades. Two of the director's own children were getting physically ill - headaches, stomach aches, insomnia - over the amount of homework and pressure that was put on them. She choose to take one of her daughter's - the one who had the most severe issues - out of the school that she was in and send her to another school. The girl stated that at first she was excited about a new school and thought that things were going to be better, but after the first week, she came to realize "it was still school". This to me was the point in the movie where I was just astonished and KEPT WAITING for someone to say they were home educating.
 
The closest case of home education was a mom who allowed her son to go to an alternative school that vaguely sounded like an umbrella school where the student had to meet with the teacher once a week, but other than that the parents just kept sending their kids to schools. The director did state that she was trying to advocate for "no homework" and they even mentioned that they got one of the schools to do "No Homework Nights", but that was it. I just don't understand it, how on earth could you continue to send your child anywhere that was making them SICK!
 
There were a few parents who had decided to not push the "college track" so strongly with there kids after they had had to send them to "stress centers" and dealt with numerous stress related disorders - anorexia, cutting, depression, etc - , but still not one of them thought why are we sending them back at all?
 
There was even a family that had a daughter who commited suicide over her math grades - I am not exaggerating, that was the reason the mom gave - and she still sends her son to school. She did say that she doesn't focus so much on his grades or his schoolwork and talks to him more about what is going on and how he is feeling, but she still sends him to school.
 
We were sitting amongst about 30 other people and for the most part - we are fairly certain - they were all teachers. We felt that way because there were many remarks throughout the movie that they thought were quite funny that we thought were disturbing and we kinda giggled and looked at each other at points that they just didn't seem to get.
 
As with Waiting for Superman, they stated a lot of facts and statistics - 93% of high school students have cheated at least once, when teachers give less or no homework the students grades improve, etc. - that are seemingly meant to awaken those who are unaware, but there is still NO solutions. They make a list of suggestions - http://www.endtherace.org/what-individuals-can-do-today - but these just seem like bandaids when you think of the damage that is being done to these kids. 
 
If there is one question that all of the parents that participated in this film should be asked it is "WHY do you continue to SEND THEM BACK?" 
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