Friday, April 29, 2011

Movie review "Race to Nowhere"

The documentary movie "Race to Nowhere" is the quiet counterpart to the better know movie "Waiting for Superman". The main difference between the two movies is that "Race to Nowhere" does not try to blame a single group (teacher unions) for the comparatively low performance of US students. The director of the movie, Vicky Abeles, is a middle-class Bay area mother of three children. Her motivation to shoot this movie was the stress she observed in her own children (her children are featured in several interviews in the movie). While "Waiting for Superman" focuses on low-performing schools in socio-economically disadvantaged US cities, "Race to Nowhere" focuses on the stress some high-performing college-bound high school students experience.

My concept map above aims to summarize the main points of the movie "Race to Nowhere". The movie states that US high schools do not aim to teach for deep understanding but to meet college admission requirements. Top colleges do not only expect straight A GPAs but also numerous extra-curricular activities. These high expectations can lead to chronic stress, health problems, burn-out syndrome, and abuse of performance-enhancing drugs. The movie pays special attention to time-consuming homework assignments that leave children with very little unstructured downtime (unsafe city environments also discourage children playing by themselves outside).

The "Race to Nowhere" website lists a number of action items for students, teachers, principals, and parents: Race to Nowhere | Changing Lives One Film at a Time

1 comment:

  1. This was actually really helpful. I have seen the movie (and live it every day as a teacher), but I like to see visual representations that help me organize my own thoughts about a concept. Thanks!