Do American Students Study Too Hard?

This Wallstreet Journal Article takes issue with the premise of Race To Nowhere.  I didn’t care for the article but the comments are very interesting.  I don’t even know what the title of the article is implying.  Are American student’s overachievers?  Race To Nowhere is about an education culture that unnecessarily puts too much pressure on kids.

How much math do we really need?

Certainly, not as much as they are throwing at students today.

Checkout this article written by Ramanathan, a professor emeritus of mathematics, statistics and computer science.   The column first appeared in The Washington Post.

Some interesting comments:

This is completely in sync with my comments on other articles regarding education — success has a lot to do with motivation. Some people naturally enjoy math, and are motivated to do well with it. But for others, making up phony reasons to try to motivate them is not very effective.

There is a very interesting Catch-22 w.r.t. math. To get into Engineering school and to get a degree in Engineering, you’ve got to do a lot of math, but ironically math isn’t used that much after you graduate. So, it is a hurdle you have to clear to get the job.

Now here’s the fun part: some people in government claim we have a shortage of engineers, and so of course they conclude more students need to study math. But it’s an artificial barrier!!! So, there’s a lot of effort to get people to work hard to clear an artificial barrier that is there in the first place to keep them out! LOL.

And Another (from here):

As I noted in my post, I find it hard to disagree with the professor’s logic, despite having taught math for twenty years. However, this is all part of a larger issue about the curriculum, and about school in general. We don’t seem to want to have a serious discussion about what is school for and what should students be learning in that relatively limited amount of time.
Instead, we just assume that the traditional subjects should be taught in the traditional manner. Kids need to learn some math but do they need it to be the huge part of the K12 curriculum (as measured by the amount the subject is tested) as it is? Does every high school student really need four years of math beginning with Algebra? Society says yes to both without even considering other options.

Is Race To Nowhere critical of school districts?

I haven’t seen the Race To Nowhere documentary movie, only the trailer.  I worry that the documentary may not be received well by LTISD administrators so I contacted one of the Texas High Schools that recently screened the movie.  This is what the Principle had to say:

We showed the film last night to our community.  It made an impact on every member in the audience (parent, student, teacher, counselor, administrator, school board member).  The film does not ‘bash’ any particular group and ends with action steps for each group.

I am the principal at my campus and felt this was a message that we all needed to hear.  I would be glad to speak to your administration about showing it.  I do not see it as critical in any sense but rather makes us reflect on our profession and philosophies.

Good luck.  Let me know how it works out for you.

Race To Nowhere

I’m THRILLED that this documentary movie was made which will facilitate a national discussion on the important topic of our education system.   Click the video above, or Go here and watch the trailer!

From their website:

Director Vicki Abeles turns the personal political, igniting a national conversation in her new documentary about the pressures faced by American schoolchildren and their teachers in a system and culture obsessed with the illusion of achievement, competition and the pressure to perform. Featuring the heartbreaking stories of young people across the country who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren’t developing the skills they need, and parents who are trying to do what’s best for their kids, Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace, students have become disengaged, stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant, and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

As followup to Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind, Drive reveals surprising conclusions to what REALLY motivates people.  Daniel is a great speaker.  This presentation is a preview to his new book:

From Daniel’s website:

Most of us believe that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, Daniel H. Pink says in, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, his provocative and persuasive new book. The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Daniel 19 minutes preview to his book Embedded below: