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Race to Nowhere update

October 25, 2010

On Thursday, I went to see Vicki Abeles, director of Race to Nowhere, host a Q&A after a screening of the the movie. Ms. Abeles is an excellent spokesperson for the film. She knows the culture of high powered schools and families all too well, since she is a former corporate lawyer, and later worked at Goldman Sachs. She came to start working on this project when she started to recognize the deleterious effects the stress her children were under was having on her family. She grew tired of being “homework cop” and simply shuttling her kids from activity to activity where the only family gathering took place over 20 minute dinnertimes.

I thought she was incredible honest and authentic, and this message, of bringing back quality family interactions by reducing the the pressure her children feel. I think many parent at my school could identify with this message, and her message that she isn’t out to blame either schools, parents or students, she’s looking for ways we can work together to solve this problem.

The actual Q&A was great. My school’s high school student body president was there, and said he found the film eye opening, and thought it made him question the past 12 years of his life. A number of Junior High faculty were there, along with a few elementary school teachers. Sadly, non high school teachers other than myself, and the school counselor attended.

I’ve also gotten a copy of the excellent facilitation guide to accompany the film, and can say that it is definitely worth contacting Chelsea Doctors, the National Screening Manager to get a copy.

I’ve also managed to make contact with some faculty at other schools who helped to organize this screening. So it now seems like we’ve got a core of 15 or so folks at my school and neighboring schools interested in talking more about these issues. The administration has also committed to screening the film in the spring, so these are great steps forward.

Our next step will be to organize a meeting of all these people when I get back from paternity leave, which should be starting any day now, since my wife is having contractions! Yikes! I think the themes of this movie are about to get all to real for me very soon.

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