posted April 4, 2012

Film “Race to Nowhere” to Be Shown on April 19

The film “Race to Nowhere,” which calls for a reduction in homework and the overall pace and pressure faced by children in the drive for achievement, will be shown at Hope College on Thursday, April 19, at 8 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre in downtown Holland.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

A panel discussion will follow the film.  The event is sponsored by the college’s department of education.

Featuring the stories of young people across the country and insights from experts in education and child development, “Race to Nowhere” explores the emphasis on homework and scheduled activity as damaging and counter productive, and seeks to mobilize families, educators and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.  The film was created by Vicki Abeles, a parent who became motivated to explore the issue based on her own family’s experience.

“I saw the strain in my children as they navigated days filled with school, homework, tutoring and extracurricular activities.  But it wasn’t until the crisis of my 12-year-old daughter being diagnosed with a stress-induced condition that I was determined to do something,” she explained in filmmaker’s notes.  “After months of long evenings battling homework assignments, studying for tests and panic attacks in the middle of the night, we found her doubled over in pain, and rushed her to the emergency room.  Her cheerful façade and determination to keep up had masked her symptoms to us, to her friends and to her teachers.”

For the film, Abeles interviewed students, parents and teachers, as well as a variety of education and child-development specialists, including Dr. Madeline Levine, author of “The Price of Privilege”; Dr. Deborah Stipek, dean of the Stanford School of Education; Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, an adolescent medicine specialist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Dr. Wendy Mogel, author of “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee”; Denise Pope, author of “Doing School”; and Sara Bennett, author of “The Case Against Homework.”  It was one of the students interviewed who gave the film its title, saying that it’s like students “get caught up in a race to nowhere.”

“Race to Nowhere” had its world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October 2009, and had its theatrical premiere in September 2010.  In reflecting on the film and its message, “The New York Times” has said, “Rushing from class to sports practice, from community work to homework, and relying increasingly on stimulants and sleep deprivation, these kids seem more pressured than the average C.E.O.  Documenting consequences that range from depression to eating disorders to suicide, the film’s medical professionals share Ms. Abeles’ alarm and her awareness that blame, if it exists, is systemic and with little current incentive to change.”

“Race to Nowhere” has a running time of 85 minutes and is rated PG-13.  The Knickerbocker Theatre is located at 86 E. Eighth St.