Race to Nowhere – a film about the pressure to get good grades – coming to you.

I stumbled on this clip from Scott Mcleaod’s blog to a movie that touches on an extreme, that if normalised in schools would spell disaster for a generation of students. The pressure to perform on tests – to get high grades – is real – its not the same as thing deep or applied learning and its present here in our schools and communities – often unspoken just present.

We want students to learn – to deeply understand their world – to be creative. In order to to do they need skills sure but the end point is not grades – its what they take and apply that counts. In fact most assessments help us as educators understand what students need to learn next – they enable us to plot growth. Yet we hear from some students in late primary school years but certainly in high school – what’s the task worth – how many points does it contribute to my grades. Not what am I going to learn from the task and how is this related to my learning goals.

With 2 teenagers in VCE I see the pressure they apply to themselves to achieve good grades. They have lofty goals and will work sometimes late at night to study and achieve these but I would like to think its balanced a little with sports and dance. However if we are to be honest much of what they do at home is practice and a lot of it. So I, at times, liken the VCE home work to a game – with rules – study hard – get good grades and then go onto learn something you are passionate about at University. Of course its not all like this for they do enjoy learning some things that often correlate with their interests.

So in part I’m guilty your honour of applying or at least tacitly supporting this practice and I’m watching my own kids with renewed awareness. 

I think the films worth looking at and talking about and like the commentators say on Scott Mcleod’s blog I’m trying to find a copy to watch the whole thing.