I encourage everyone to see this important documentary. I thought it was well done and give it five stars. This film is about the need for a paradigm shift in our educational system, away from an ineffective competitive culture to one of meaning, purpose, creativity, passion and authentic learning.
The film interviews high school students, parents, teachers and administrators to reveal the pointless, debilitating stress kids are under to make the grade, to pass the test, and to get into a good college. (Even as homeschoolers we feel this although thankfully to a far lesser degree – click here – for recent post about countering approaching test stress.) I know from my work with our local clergy association that the anxiety, depression, cutting, suicide, drug use and overall disillusionment described in this film are not at all overstated.
The statistics are revealing. Countries with far less homework than our kids have, are doing better than us. When an AP Biology instructor cut half of his kid’s homework, they did better, not worse. Only 3% of current high school kids could say they never cheated in high school. Kid’s are doing whatever they can to get the grades required to get into a good college, but once there, 50% of college freshman need to take remedial classes in order to do college level work.
This film highlights that we need to move away from:
- defining success in a narrow way
- valuing only academic or athletic skills
- a quantitative approach to learning
- too much emphasis on standardized testing
- stretching kids to the point where they don’t sleep, don’t eat, or take drugs to cope
- fearing our kids won’t have a place in the global economy
- excessive homework (no more than one or two hours a night)
We need to take some pressure off by asking colleges to limit the number of AP tests and activities they will consider. We need kids to have time to play, eat dinner with their families and read for pleasure. We need to find a holistic approach, based on true interests.
Check out the website (click here) and see the film. Get other people to see this film, and let’s fix this perversion of the American Dream.