Saturday, January 22, 2011


Fact of the day: Race to Nowhere, the documentary about “the high-stakes, high-pressure culture that has invaded our schools and our children’s lives,” is rated PG-13 -- because of “thematic material involving stress on adolescents.”

One teacher’s reaction: “So my students could live it every day and that’s okay, but they can’t watch it.”


Midwestern Avenger said...

I understand where Race to Nowhere was coming from, but for the vast majority of American students, I can't say it seems very accurate. It seems like they mostly surveyed or asked the MOST-TASKED (probably 10-20% of all American school students, ESPECIALLY in public schools) and hardest-worked ones with the most-demanding parents. I mean, I was a straight-A student with fairly good SAT and ACT scores for college. I probably could've gotten into one of MANY very good universities, although I opted for Mizzou because of its size and opportunities, to say the least.

However, I never felt THAT much pressure, at least not the kind that Race to Nowhere claims. I was just a natural at it, I guess. My parents never forced me into extracurriculars, and I was never big on them, either. I'm a very picky person, and none of the ones in high school enticed me that much (college, fortunately, was a LOT different in that regard). Of course, there were some hard times every now and then, but overall, high school in America, at least in the public school system, is pretty easy compared to what OTHER systems like in East and South Asia have.

I mean, have you SEEN how competitive Japan is educationally? THEY should be doing that kind of documentary on themselves. Race to Nowhere for American students sounds like whining, if you ask me.

Midwestern Avenger said...

Lol. Whaddya know about that! The person who operates the Youtube channel for the people who made this film actually BLOCKED me from further commenting on their trailer. Wtf? I don't recall using much profanity, if any, in my comments. All I did was point out the flaws in the film and talk about how it seems like a bunch of silly whining and complaining, making much ado about nothing really.

MAYBE they didn't like me criticizing and exposing them? Who knows

Chris said...

Midwestern Avenger -- Thanks for commenting! It's interesting to hear your take on the situation -- it's true that it's hard to know whether the competitiveness described in the movie is being exaggerated, given the anecdotal nature of the evidence. I will say that I haven't sensed that much aggressive pushing of the kids to achieve here in our school system (though I do think the schools have pushed certain subject matter at earlier ages than necessary because of the pressure to raise standardized tests, but I think that's a somewhat different issue). But my oldest in only in fifth grade, so I can't say much about what it's like in junior high or high school here.

I sometimes wonder if there are regional differences in how the pressures of NCLB play out in different school systems. My (very anecdotally based, probably hare-brained) sense is that the high-intensity pressure to achieve is something you hear people complaining about more in, say, East Coast areas than here in the Midwest. On the other hand, I sometimes think that here in the Midwest there is relatively more emphasis on obedience to authority and unthinking compliance with rules. Crazy theory?