Race To Nowhere Review of Film

November 2, 2010 by Geoff Nixon

Race To Nowhere Review of Film

A film about how schools are rushing through learning fundamentals

Do parents need to step in to finish the job?

race to nowhere reviewThere have been two great films on our education system recently.  Waiting For Superman about the plight of our public schools, and Race To Nowhere about student stress and the ineffectiveness of schools in preparing students for college — lots of busy work (“Race”) for an inadequate end result (“Nowhere”). This is a Race to Nowhere review.

One theme of particular interest to us in Race to Nowhere is that the schools are turning children into professional students who can pass tests — material learned one week, forgotten the next.  But students are not learning how to think, read or write critically, essential skills for college and career advancement. More than that, they are not developing a love of learning, arguably the most crucial of all graduating career and life skills.

US students do well on 4th grade international testing, but fall off by 8th grade as their lack of fundamentals is exposed. 

HALF of new University of California students, who achieve very high grades to get in, end up requiring reading or math remediation to handle college level work.  Many college students have symptoms of dyslexia.

It starts with a strong foundation.  Elementary school should be about reading and writing.  But the proliferation of Federal, State and District standards has forced schools to cover more content earlier, meaning less time for fundamentals.

Love of Reading Is Paramount

Students should also leave elementary school with a healthy love of reading — this is only possible if reading is easy (fluent) and rewarding (good comprehension), i.e., if the reading fundamentals are in place.  In many cases this will require a reading software.

The film makes suggestions to prevent student burn-out and stress — take homework out of elementary school, encourage unstructured down-time, unplug — but it does not address the shrinking time availability in schools for teaching foundational reading and writing skills.

If your child has not developed these skills by 3rd or 4th grade, he/she is going to need outside help. 

The schools have moved on!

Race to Nowhere is being screened in schools all over the country right now.  Here is a link to planned screenings. Find out when the film is near you