I recently attended a screening of the award-winning documentary titled Race to Nowhere. The film tells the heartbreaking stories of young people across the country who have been pushed to the brink. It depicts educators who are burned out and parents who are trying to do what’s best for their kids. Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: disengaged students, cheating has become commonplace, stress-related illness, depression and burnout and young people arriving at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.
Race to Nowhere is a call to mobilize families, educators and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.
In a grassroots sensation, already feeding a groundswell for change, hundreds of theaters, schools and organizations nationwide are hosting community wide screenings during a six-month campaign. Tens of thousands of people are coming together, using the film as the centerpiece for raising awareness, radically changing the national dialogue on education and galvanizing change.
The timing of seeing this film could not have come at a better time. Our family is for the first time navigating high school. My freshman son came home from school one day after football practice preparing to do the usual two or three hours of homework and looked at me and said something that I do not think that I will ever forget. He asked, “Mom, do I really need to take honors earth science?” This question came from a student who had three other honors level classes, participated in a sport and held a part time job washing dishes on the weekends. Had I not had the opportunity to view this film the night before, I might have answered without hesitation, “yes.”
The documentary gave me a new insight and perspective that I will apply in my daily parenting skills and overall outlook on the education of my three boys. I will no longer drill them when they get home from school about the days test scores and when the next test was scheduled. I can get all of that information off of the school website. Instead, I will ask my three boys “What did you learn today?” and “What person made a difference in your day today?” Hopefully these types of questions will take the focus off of the grade and make it about lighting that flame inside them that inspires them to learn not to just get a grade.
So does my son need honors earth science? If he wants to study volcanoes or rare plants, then sure. Right now, he doesn’t.
How are you putting the passion back in learning and inspiring change in our educational system?
—Jennifer McMann-Buszka, MSN, WHNP-BC, Parenting Program Coordinator