Racing, but to Where?

Maybe people are just stressing out and that’s why they send along nasty demeaning emails, like the ones I was talking about here on Monday.

Maybe stress is also responsible for the curmudgeonly ways of that crotchety shopkeeper I told about Tuesday.

A documentary dealing with stress and what stress does to our kids was screened in my town the night before last. I couldn’t go see it because I was three towns away getting sweetly peed upon by a naked baby just now learning to sit upright, which is what she was doing, on my lap , while the two of us watched the soapy fun her brother was having in the tub.

Still, I honored the event in my own way yesterday morning, when I looked up the documentary on Google and watched its every trailer and clip, the coverage the New York Times gave it the interview Katie Couric did with Vicki Abeles who made it – everything I could find about it on the Internet in short.

In Race to Nowhere as  director Abeles has chosen to call her film, we get a look at all the must-do’s in our public schools, from the hours of assigned homework to the introduction of  the high stakes testing that came on the scene with the No Child Left Behind program inaugurated by the previous President George W Bush.

A chief point made in the documentary is that the so-called “high ability” kids are so pushed to achieve that many are nearing the breaking point, even as other students, who do not do well on standardized tests, are growing discouraged by their results on these standardized tests and dropping out of school at a much higher rate than in the years before this program was implemented.

Additionally most educators agree that when you merely “teach to the test,” working to prepare students for a single  exam that will be used to label the teachers and the school system AND the students, you drain all spontaneity and creative ferment out of the classroom.

Maybe you’ll agree with the film’s thesis and maybe you won’t but one thing is sure: with adults in this society exhibiting the levels of stress that they do the last thins we need it to be inflicting more stress on our children. As the Mayo Clinic’s website puts it, ““When the stressors of your life are always present, leaving you constantly feeling stressed, tense, nervous or on edge, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The less control you have over potentially stress-inducing events and the more uncertainty they create, the more likely you are to feel stressed. The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease, sleep problems, depression, obesity, memory impairment…” And that’s just a partial list.

Watch the clip now and see what you think.

2 thoughts on “Racing, but to Where?

  1. Now I’m felling stressed that I don’t have enough stress. But wait, now that I’ve added that stress, I’m feeling better. However, now I’m stressed that I’m feeling better, and that makes me feel worse, again. Which, of course, makes me feel better than before…I think.

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