Race to Nowhere Shines a Light on Pressures Students Face

From childhood to senior year and beyond, students are facing an enormous amount of pressure to be over-achievers. The alarmingly high expectations come in from all angles: parents, teachers, coaches and school officials are weighing down hard on kids and some are afraid that they just can’t take the stress. Vicki Abeles, rookie film-maker and mother to a 12-year old with stress induced stomachaches, decided it’s time to acknowledge the corner we’re backing ourselves into.
We all want our young children to succeed, but round-the-clock activities and no down time is producing highly-stressed individuals. We simply cannot expect the next generation to be any closer to super-human than we are.

Abeles created the film Race to Nowhere and although it hasn’t received much publicity, it’s sparking conversation all across the country. PTA groups and even Pixar are taking time to view the film and hold interactive discussions afterward. Race to Nowhere highlights a terrifying truth: some students are turning to drugs so that they can more easily juggle all of their commitments. Parents and school officials must wake up and take a look at the ramifications of their years and years of constant pushing.
In the film, one psychologist offers her insight, “When success is defined by high grades, test scores, trophies, we know that we end up with unprepared, disengaged, exhausted and ultimately unhealthy kids.”
So much attention is focused on the underprivileged, but we tend to forget the problems that even the more privileged children face. In a society where you are judged by the colleges your child is applying to, there is no room for creativity and individuality. What will become of our country if only a small percentage of us can afford college and those of us who can are under too much pressure to actually do any good for the world?
The solution is to create a happy medium between raising a child with initiative and raising a child with the good sense to take care of themselves. Family time, recreational activities and personal time are all very important for a well-rounded child. Stress is the cause for many health conditions and we don’t want our kids worrying themselves into an early grave. A Harvard degree won’t do much good there.
Via The NY Times, Image via