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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

November 12, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Does the U.S. push its students too hard — or too little?

Are U.S. students more interested in athletics than academics, so lackadaisical about their futures that they’re at risk of losing out to more motivated, harder-working students in China and India?

Or are they too stressed out in academic pressure-cookers, pushed to do too much meaningless work, and losing out on real learning — and their sanity?

Two recent documentaries — “Two Million Minutes” and “Race to Nowhere” — make the case for the first as well as the second, two opposing views that will be explored in a University of Washington event this coming Monday.

The event, sponsored by the UW’s Master’s in Education Policy program, will be one of the few if not the only time that excerpts from both films will be shown together. 

“We’re not trying to lead people in any particular direction,” said Tom Halverson, the program’s director. The idea, he said, is to talk about the two contrasting views as a way to explore what’s really best for kids.

“I’d just like to get a dialog going,” he said, noting that some parents believe more is always better, insisting that their children start taking Advanced Placement courses as early as middle school.

The event, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Paccar Hall, room 290, will start with two excerpts from the  films — about 20 minutes from “Two Million Minutes” ( named for the amount of time students spend in high school), and about 30 minutes of “Race to Nowhere,” which focuses on high-school students stressed out by how much they’re expected to produce.

That will be followed by discussion among participants and several panelists: Jondou Chase Chen, research associate with the UW’s Education, Equity and Society project; Chanira Reang Sperry, of the UW’s undergraduate advising office; David Quinn, International Baccalaureate coordinator at Edmonds-Woodway High School; and Margaret Adams and Denise Campbell of the Lake Washington PTSA Council.

The event is free and open to the public.

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