Saturday, February 26, 2011

To Ponder: Race to Nowhere Post Screening Discussion

Below are video recordings in Amherst Massachusetts of discussion after a screening of the documentary Race to Nowhere.

(I still have not seen the movie but have seen clips; I have plans to see the movie next week.)

The older I get the less I feel like having debates or pointing out flaws I find in other people's arguments. I used to enjoy it more than I do now. I still am of the mindset that I like to discuss and I can "agree to disagree".

People are saying this movie will hopefully open up a dialogue about schooling in America and to get people thinking about the purpose of schooling and about education. I'm already there, they are preaching to the choir with me. In the thirteen and a half years I've been a parent I've been thinking about the education of my children. Actually due to not being happy with my own education I was already thinking about the future educations of my not-yet-conceived children when I was a single young adult.

You, like me, will probably benefit from listening to opinions of others and pondering them which can lead to the formation of your own opinions.

The video quality of the below videos is poor. I chose to listen while I was sorting books.

My thoughts on the post screening discussion follow.

1. The zero sum game is mentioned (not by name), that is, that some people are of the mindset that in order for one person to succeed someone else must be pushed down below them. I do not prescribe to this mindset. I feel that what one learns is just in the mind of that one learner. Regarding grades they should be looked upon as a reflection of the student's work as an individual not just using the grade to compare one student against another. The truth is that everyone could score a 100 if they performed well, there is not just one 100 score to give out and one 99, et cetera. The issue is class rank where students are measured against each other. However, class rank is not the major focus of a child's education.

2. The quest for happiness though seeking a career in a field that one loves is a worthy goal. However I still feel happiness can and does stem from other things not just working for pay. If the only source of happiness in life was picking the right career and working at it, would not then all the stay at home mothers be miserable? What also of retired persons? Thus placing all of one's eggs in one basket, saying college and a career that stems from that course of study is the one right and best path seems ridiculous.

Therefore I don't quite know how to react to the statement by the father of an Ivy League college student who says the subject that made his son the happiest in high school was woodworking. The boy wanted the Ivy League education more than his father says he wanted it for him. Therefore who is to say the kid is on a path to unhappiness? And that is also a case where the father didn't push his will onto the student's life so isn't that something to be praised? Maybe the college student will be lucky enough to find a career that provides well for him and he can have woodworking as a hobby for personal fulfillment (much like how blogging and knitting and photography provide happiness to me).

3. I take issue with those who always want to talk about the have's and the have not's. All people must support themselves so if the parents are wealthy that's no solution to the question of what an education is or should be and if the child is learning or not.

As to those who want to dismiss the education of "the wealthy" or "the priviledged", I believe there are very few people who our government labels as wealthy who have enough money or the intention to have their adult aged children sit on their butts and not work, while the parent supports them. All these kids need jobs and a way to support themselves. It is the employers who want the college degree as a litmus test for competence even when said degree is not in the field of the job itself.

4. The issue for some families is probably not just wanting to Keep Up With The Jonses' by having so-called priviledged kids attend college, the issue is the kids themselves also seek a life of something other than living in poverty or being unemployed and homeless.

What is wrong with the desire to want to support oneself in a job something other than an entry level minimum wage job? Face it, between paying off the college loans, paying for a car (to get to work in) and (the required by law) car insurance, the medical insurance (mandated by Obamacare), paying rent and utitilies and groceries, and saving up to buy a home someday and to pay for a wedding, oh, and paying taxes, there is not a lot left over. Those college grads need to make money to live, period! Who can blame a person for wanting to make a decent wage to support themselves (and their future spouse and future children)?

And since when is being self-sufficient and self-supporting something to be criticized? How can trying to prepare oneself to support themselves finanically being "Keep up with the Joneses?".  I'm sorry I don't see the connection.

5. I loved it when the teacher discussed what is the purpose of an education and what is the purpose of a school? He said the school in the inner city, he feels, has lost its purpose. I'd like to hear more of that discussion being had by school administrators, politicians and parents, but across all levels of income.

6. I enjoyed hearing the calls for education reform but hey, people have been calling for education reform for over a hundred years and look where we are now. Has any progress really been made?

If you watch these videos and would like to share opinions, please leave a comment.

Part I

Part II

Part III

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I look forward to seeing this movie, also. I do hope that it helps foster more discussion on the system and ways to possibly go about fixing things.

Ring true,