Tag Archives: Race to Nowhere

No Child Left Behind, Square Pegs & Round Holes, & Rhode Island Education

I didn’t set out to become an education reform advocate, but somewhere in the process of writing a book about the benefits of music education, my research let me to funding of the arts, which led me to the consequences of No Child Left Behind, which led me to…

The video above addresses the potential consequences of a standardized testing program in Rhode Island, but it is a representation of an education epidemic that affects all of our children:

The escalation of the reliance on standardized testing as an assessment mechanism is hindering our ability to focus on the individuality of our students, and to help them identify and prepare for their unique calling and vocation.

It is said that everyone has the ability to perform at genius levels at “something.” Our job is to help students discover what their particular “something” is. I believe that in this world there are too many square pegs trying to fit into round holes due to fear or complacency, or because they were not given the proper tools of self-discovery. The greatest productivity gains that we as a society can achieve is by realigning those pegs.

In a related note, here’s a trailer for the movie Race To Nowhere, an indie film project about the current status of our education system, driven by a concerned parent.

Race to Nowhere: Helping Kids Step off the Academic Treadmill

A fellow music education advocate recommended the film Race to Nowhere. I must say that I haven’t had the opportunity to see the film, but the trailer echoes many of the frustrations with the direction of education that we’ve discussed here previously. The film is being screened in selected markets and will be released this fall.

The film website also has links, resources, and tools to get behind this message. It’s also important to note that testimonials indicated that the movie leaves you with a sense of hope rather than just taking the easy route of bashing education and leaving the viewer frustrated.

While we generally discuss music education in this forum, many of the themes addressed in this documentary are questions we raise in that debate including:

  • Personalized approach to students’ needs
  • The importance of a well-rounded school experience (educated vs. informed students)
  • The pressure to perform on standardized tests (schools, students, and teachers)
  • Developing the ability to think rather than memorize
  • Redefining success

As I’ve stated previously here in a letter to the Aspen’s Institute on No Child Left Behind, “Our ability to meet performance metrics is meaningless if those metrics are not a true measure of the needs of our students.” Any thoughts from those who may have seen this film would be appreciated.

Startling statistics
A letter from the Director Vicki Abeles