Getting to Somewhere: The Changes They Made

Did you see the film Race to Nowhere?

The film challenged the obsession with competition and evaluation in our education system. It looked at the damage done by valuing children and their learning on the basis of test scores, grades, GPAs and college acceptance letters.

It was released in 2010 and was shown to groups of concerned and interested parents, students and educators across the country. We showed it to a packed house in the James Earl Jones Theater in October 2010 with a follow-up panel with teachers and students from several schools and a psychologist. At PDS it led to serious discussion about student stress and the role of homework and home learning.

Filmaker Vicki Abeles is on a mission to change the national conversation on education. (See A New Education Story.)

It is her contention that the incessant chatter about out-performing others and racing to the top is counter-productive and is driving the joy and purpose of learning from students’ lives. And, she points out,  it is promoted by no less an authority than the White House where the education website opens with: “To prepare Americans for the jobs of the future and help restore middle-class security, we have to out-educate the world.”

Abeles sees this emphasis on achievement and  competition as misguided. “We live in a one-size-fits-all educational culture …. It is this dominant narrative, and the system it supports, that needs to change.”  Children are more than their test scores and tests are not the measure of a child’s worth. To be successful we need more than the drive to outscore others.

As a follow -up to the film she asked people to tell their stories about changes they have made to reclaim the love of learning. You can see some of those people in the video that uses the power of personal stories to challenge  and change the prevailing model of education.

But – Abeles says – you don’t have to be a filmmaker to tell your story. “Blog, vlog, have a conversation about education among friends at your next dinner date — do whatever it takes to be vocal about what education can be. Telling stories can change our minds and our world. It might even change the White House’s website.”

Share your story:  Changing education is about changing the stories we tell.

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