Race To Nowhere | Notes & Review

Posted on December 3, 2010



Some QUOTES and SENTIMENTS from the film:

Many of the symptoms our kids are experiencing–headaches, stomachaches, depression, etc.–are stress-induced. Much of what we are doing in education is “de-humanizing.”

“Some of the pressure is real.” Our systems have not adapted to the changing demographics.

Much of the depression and anxiety that they feel in childhood “translates into adulthood.”

“There is no correlation between more homework and academic success. Other countries with greater success do not have nearly the same amount of work load. Homework is not a paper gauge of learning.”

“When did school get to determine how students live their lives after the bell rings?” One teacher in the film cut homework in 1/2 and AP scores went up.

Much of this has to do with the government program, No Child Left Behind and the resulting testing.

“We teach to prepare for the test. Things that cause students to socialize, care, work together, are set aside.” [In addition, there is often a financial incentive for the teachers to get them to pass the tests. If the scores are good, they get paid.

I don’t ever understand why we don’t “invest up front?” (when discussing the money we put into criminal justice and welfare). Education always seems to get cut first.

CHEATING – “How are you expected to learn if you’re not allowed to make mistakes?

“The point of education is to learn – not to memorize.”

“The world is run by ‘C’ students. Many top CEOs have little college education.”

“1/2 of the accepted UC applicants have to be remediated. That is, they have to be brought up to college level learning. And these are the top graduating high school students.”

The question emerged, Has college become more about being a business than being about true education?

I stopped trying because if you don’t try, you can’t fail.”

Authors featured in the film:

Kenneth Ginsburg
Sara Bennett
Denise Clark Pope
Madeline Levine
Wendy Mogel

— VIA —

Thanks to TKA for the invite and St. Simon’s for hosting the viewing.

This film highlights the stress pressure that students are facing. The issue of suicide takes a prominent place in the film, and it makes the case that our stress-inducing culture of academic expectation has a huge part to play. There are psychologists, teachers, administrators, etc.–quite authoritative voices–telling us that good education does not require this high level of homework we are providing. On the contrary, we can actually accomplish more with less.

While “Superman” addressed the issues of the various kinds of options and the challenges of finding a good education, “Race” addressed more the broad issues of expectation, stress, and the overall culture and philosophy of education we have in our society. I believe the film made its case well, and that’s only because I have witnessed first-hand the realities our students face. Both films are “pro-kid,” for which I’m thankful, in addition to the sentiments I already posted under Superman.

Go see this film, and then take your kids to play some soccer.


  • We have to retrain our thinking. Consider the faith element, that education is not about achieving so much as it is fulfilling your call and creative potential.
  • What about creating a parent covenant in which schools partner with parents in the wholistic approach to their child’s education?
  • Teaching methods must be addressed, such as how teachers actually teach inside the classroom, using more participatory methods than traditional “information transference” methods.
  • We’re not so much about “college-prep” as we are “life-prep.”