Battle Hymn of the Anti-Tiger Mother
The powerful, alarming documentary that’s riling up parents across the country.
By Emily Yoffe
Updated Friday, April 29, 2011, at 12:28 PM ET
By the end of this school year, about half a million people will have watched the documentary Race to Nowhere. This stealth juggernaut can’t be
seen on TV, in any multiplex, or
on DVD. But since the fall of last year, it’s been shown almost 2,000 times in school auditoriums and community centers across the country—mostly to parents beset with the fear that they’re blowing the raising of their kids.
The emotional discussions following the screenings—part catharsis, part call to action, part finger-pointing—are excellent introductions to the contentious debate about what we want from our kids and from
the people who educate them.
But Race to Nowhere also introduces us to a culture of rampant cheating, which students see as the only way to keep up; rising numbers of medicated kids, some of whom abuse attention-deficit drugs to finish all their assignments; children nearing emotional and physical collapse over the expectation they must be dazzling; and young people trained to be so fearful of making mistakes or taking risks that they are unable to cope when arriving at the workplace. And then there is the agonizing story that bookends the movie—that of a 13-year-old girl, a perfect child so undone by her perceived failures in middle school that she committed suicide.
Our tumultuous times call for thorough examinations of what our values really are–and
what they should be.
Is grabbing more power and more money what we really want
? Will having more of these truly make us happy