Sitting in my editor seat, I'm the first to pick up on buzz around all things kid-related and education-related. So I was lucky enough to snap up tickets to a special screening of "Race to Nowhere" at Seattle University before it "sold" out. I'd heard many things about this documentary - mostly, that it paints a stark, painful picture of the reality of hothouse highschoolers, those brilliant and hyper-driven high achievers who are held up as examples of exemplary teen excellence even as they crumble into heaps of misery.
Yep, this film's got all that, and it sent me and many others staggering out into the night wondering if it could happen to our own precious children. We want the best for our kids - and from our kids. We expect them to try their best, and we worry (many of us worry) whether we've given them enough of an edge to compete in the world. We all know 10-year-old basketball phenoms who pull down straight A's and serve at soup kitchens. Outsanding child! But as we encourage our kids to do their best, are we going too far?
"I'm afraid chidren are going to sue us for stealing their childhood," says super-cool book author Wendy Mogul in the film. For some children, it starts early. Says one educator in the film: "We've got 6-month-olds doing flashcards when they're supposed to be sucking on their toes and thumbs!"
What is lost in this equation? Where is the "sweet spot" between expecting the best - and causing way, way too much stress? Here's another chance to see this fascinating film: ParentMap is hosting a special screening at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island this Thursday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door (though it's almost certain to sell out!).