The documentary Race to Nowhere, being shown publicly at on Tuesday evening, examines the possible results of pushing children to succeed.
“The film looks at all the many competing demands and stressors placed on kids, families and teachers these days and questions whether there are more effective ways of ensuring that our children grow up to be happy, healthy and successful,” said Ilyse Levine-Kanji, member of the Westborough School Committee. “It is a documentary made up of interviews of students, parents, teachers and other professionals such as psychologists and education administrators.”
Westborough, like any town with a top ranking school district, has potential to fall victim to placing high demands on children. Most parents and students feel it from a very early age.
Peers are taking instrument lessons, being chosen for advanced placement classes, training for a spot on top sports teams, getting tutored on college essay writing and more. Keeping up with the Joneses has turned into keeping up with Jacks and Jennifers.
But it is not just parents who feel the stress. Educators, too, feel pressure to assure that students are keeping up test scores and meeting mandated state and local expectations for student achievement.
What happens to the children when adults are focused on producing a generation of highly-educated, talented and advanced students? Race to Nowhere addresses that question.
“It is really interesting - thought-provoking - even if one doesn't have to agree with it all. It was different than I expected,” said Levine-Kanji.
“It features experts in the area of psychology, education, medicine, and provides real life stories from students across the country who have experienced undo stress, fear, and anxiety of being unprepared for college and the workplace,” said Superintendent Marianne O’Connor.
“I recommend faculty, parents, and community members view the film so that we can all actively engage in developing a solution to assist our children in finding a balance in their lives. We need to work together to prepare our children and equip them with the skills necessary to lead productive and emotionally healthy lives,” she said. “This must be a concerted effort in order for any changes to take place.”
“I would recommend that parents see the film because it forces viewers to step back and consider our priorities, and what is truly important in helping our children to grow up to become happy, healthy and successful adults,” Levine-Kanji added. “Sometimes we all get too caught up in the day to day stressors of life and forget to focus on the big picture.”
Race to Nowhere will be presented in the auditorium of Mill Pond School, 6 Olde Hickory Path, on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. For more information, visit www.racetonowhere.com or contact Superintendent Marianne O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-836-7703.