Race to Nowhere: Do we have a Map?


Rich Text Article first published as Race to Nowhere: do we have a map? on Technorati.

mistyThe movie, Race to Nowhere, has brought new attention to education and student motivation. I hope that this film inspires dialogue about what school could become.
As Seth Godin says in his 2010 book, Linchpin, Are you Indispensible?, the sign outside school could read, “We teach people to take initiative and become remarkable artists, to question the status quo and to interact with transparency. And our graduates understand that consumption is not the answer to social problems.”
I want to work at a school like that! What child does not want to go to a school as Godin describes: “What they should teach in school: Only two things: 1. Solve interesting problems. 2. Lead.”
Kierkegaard once said, “We create ourselves by our choices.” Our children and our students are making choices based on our examples.
In Terry McMillan’s 2010 sequel to Waiting to Exhale called Getting to Happy, 15 ½-year-old Sparrow tells her mom, “Most of the kids at my school get their meds from their parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinet.”
parrotWe are aware that some children are doing homework until late in the night and taking pills to stay up. How big of a problem is it? Another character, 14-year-old Taylor says, “I looked in your side table and I saw your little pharmacy ….all of [my mom’s] scripts were on display in the medicine cabinet. This is where most of my friends get their stash to sell at school for spending money.”
Jason McDonald, an instructional designer, and academic researcher states that “for high school and college there is evidence that the race we’ve entered our kids in is damaging them in important ways.” 

For college student information, he recommends reading My Freshman Year, the report of an anthropologist who went “native” as a college freshman and recorded her experiences.

boardFor high school, look at Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students. McDonald states, “This was a study of a group of high school juniors and seniors who were trying to live up to the pressure of getting into a good college. It’s not a pretty picture.”

A negative toned Newsweek article called “School Reform and Student Motivation” by Robert J. Samuelson from September 06, 2010 claims that “Motivation has weakened because more students (of all races and economic classes, let it be added) don’t like school, don’t work hard, and don’t do well. “
Is it simply that kids don’t like school? Are they not motivated? Are they bored? Is it possible that the Race to Nowhere is not motivating but somewhat soul stealing?
The photos in this article are from my science summer camp. All of the children were engaged, active learners who run into the classroom to learn. Maybe we have to look at ourselves and see what example do we give. Do we take pills to stay awake at work? to feel less bored?
I hope the rising tide of this film helps us to examine what is really going on and find a way to create schools where students run in the door on Monday mornings.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. She sailed the seven seas by cruise ship for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. Find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over one and a quarter million views (1,250,000) on her YouTube channel. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries, named #3 on the top 1000 Travel Blogs and the top female travel blogger 3 times in 2019. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and has over 160,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and also ran fifteen travel competitions publishing over 2500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on her own site, We Said Go Travel. From 2017 to 2020 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won three times and been a finalist fourteen times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards. She was also a finalist for four other categories including online journalist of the year, digital story for activism journalism with Ms. Magazine, educational reporting for Wharton Magazine and a broadcast lifestyle feature for KTLA TV in Los Angeles.    Niver won a 2019 NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award for one of her KTLA TV segments and was a finalist for articles published in both Ms. Magazine and Wharton Magazine. In 2018,  she was a finalist for stories in Smithsonian, PopSugar Fitness and the Saturday Evening Post. Niver won a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal and was a finalist for travel reporting. Niver has written for AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres (United Airlines), Jewish Journal, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Myanmar Times, National Geographic, POPSUGAR, Robb Report, Saturday Evening Post, Scuba Diver Life, Sierra Club, Ski Utah, Smithsonian, TODAY, Trivago, USA Today 10best, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Scary Challenges Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip.  http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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