On Tuesday, March 15th, Trinity School (in conjunction with fifteen other schools in the Atlanta area) will be hosting a screening of Race to Nowhere and a panel discussion following the film. With 1,400 registered guests and a highly distinguished panel, this event will only serve to continue the conversation about the issues raised in the film. There’s certainly a dynamic tension that exists — and one that educators, parents, and students feel on almost a daily basis. Trinity’s Head of School, Stephen Kennedy, highlights this tension thoughtfully in a letter that is included in tomorrow night’s program: “On one hand, we want our children and young adults to be resilient, to deal with life’s challenges, and to become thoughtful leaders. On the other hand, we do not want them to be depressed, overly stressed, or unhealthy in an effort to achieve these goals.”
Having seen Race to Nowhere twice (once in October and again on February 28th at an event designed for Atlanta area educators), I am impressed with Jonathan Martin’s words in his blog post “Race to Nowhere: A Response” and encourage you to spend some time reading his reflections. Martin writes:
The film asks and addresses what are for this parent and educator some of the most central and essential questions about K-12 education and child-raising; it does so in ways stimulating, provocative, compelling, redundant, one-sided, and emotionally manipulative.
The essential questions, then, to my observation, in the film include the following:
- What is K-12 education’s ultimate purpose?
- What is the role of happiness and self-fulfillment (or self-actualization as our panelist Dr. Davis asked) in the priorities of K-12 education?
- Are we educating effectively if our education is constituted primarily of test-taking, test-preparation, and memorization/regurgitation of information?
- How do we promote balance in the lives of our students, and what is the role of homework in this equation?
We have asked our panelists (listed below) to consider the question — Should success be redefined? — and I suspect that they will also address many of the questions above. I look forward to tomorrow night’s event and hope to post a personal reflection with my ever-evolving thoughts about the film in the coming days.
A PANEL DISCUSSION: SHOULD SUCCESS BE REDEFINED?
- Dr. Mark Crawford: Clinical Psychologist (Moderator)
- Vicki Abeles: Producer and Co-Director of “Race to Nowhere”
- Dr. Pearl R. Kane: Klingenstein Family Chair Professor of Education, Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University
- Alfie Kohn: Writer and Speaker
- Dr. James W. Wagner: President of Emory University