Parent reviews for Race to Nowhere

Common Sense says

Compelling docu looks at academic pressures faced by teens.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review
Adult Written byKerry D. April 6, 2018

Must see for parents, educators and mature teens

Our children's physical, emotional and mental well being are so much more important than society's narrow view of them based on grades and achievements. Imagine a society where academic grades, careers and salaries didn't define us? We need a cultural shift to slow down, realize what really matters, be compassionate toward ourselves and others, and redefine success. This film wakes us up and helps that process begin.
Adult Written byMA11 March 28, 2018

Great Movie

If you have children you will want to watch this movie. This movie is showing a new path for our children. Far too many children are not having a childhood and stressing over school rather than playing. Children need to have play time and down time. Not every waking moment should be about school and grades. This movie is a must see.
Adult Written bySmlucci March 27, 2018

Time for a more humane and sane education of our children

This movie awakened me and my community to jump start a conversation and amplify a grassroots effort to improve the health of our children by focusing on where they spend the most time: at school. The stories shared here present a compelling wake-up call for all adults in the room! This is the time to create more generative solutions.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byConcerned educator March 26, 2018

Still relevant 9 years later...

Race to Nowhere is still relevant even 9 years after it was made. Look up the recently written letter from a principal to parents in the Newport Beach, Ca area about a young teen's suicide in January 2018. It is a powerful message to parents and educators. This movie was made to start the conversation and it is a call to action to address the anxiety and stress created by an academic culture of competition that often feels like a road to nowhere for many of our young people.
Parent Written byJess D. March 25, 2018

Game changing and important film

Race to Nowhere was the beginning of a conversation my community really needed and wanted to have. The film helps students, parents, educators and policymakers to see what is unnecessary and unhealthy in the status quo. It points the viewer to the questions we need to ask in order to create a more inspired and inspiring version of childhood and schooling. RTN sets the stage for the next film, BEYOND MEASURE, which demonstrates some hopeful models of schools and communities that dared to do things differently. We can do better by our children, and Race To Nowhere is the first step. I am grateful that we have now shown the film several times, to multiple audiences, and it has helped our district and community to place a priority on wellness and balance, which go hand in hand with (not in competition with) excellence.
Parent Written byChelsea B. March 25, 2018

Honest & thought-provoking

Although some may not agree, many others will watch this film and see a mirror held up to their own lives, or the lives of their children. As I watched the film, I thought about my own experience as a teenager - the pressures I felt to "have it all." I don't remember my parents overtly telling me I had to get straight A's, go to the best college, have a certain career and make a certain amount of money, but every day at school was a reminder that my identity was being formed in direct connection to my ability to perform. As I watched this film, I now think about my experience as a parent. What role do I play? I think about the culture they will soon enter in the school system. I think about the choices I can make to help shape their experiences; more importantly, I think about how to help shape their sense of self outside of ranks, files, and test scores. How can I ensure they are able to maintain their unique interests, and their innate ability to create, to play, to self-soothe, to learn? This film was great for starting a dialogue in our family. One film is far too short to capture the exact experiences of every family, or every child, but I value its honesty, its integrity, and its willingness to question assumptions and long-standing traditions in the way we educate the youth of America.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written byMichelle M. March 25, 2018

An Important Film For All Parents & Their Children To See!

This is an important and pertinent film for all to see. It clearly depicts the multitude of stressors that adolescents and teens experience which lead to serious and often detrimental consequences. There are incremental and effective changes that can happen on the micro and macro levels that can help alleviate these challenges. The film highlights the gravity of this issue for kids. The interviews of kids, parents, educators, service providers, are illuminating and powerful. I can’t recommend this film enough. It truly changed the way I view the issue and has been instrumental in me advocating for the well-being of my children and others I work with.
Parent Written byEva D. March 25, 2018

A must see for parents and and educators

A Race to Nowhere gives a voice to the conversation students, parents, teachers, coaches, counselors....everyone has been thinking about the rat race we are putting our students through each year. RTN shows why we need to push the reset button on our expectations and the pathways to "success." for our future.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written byHolly N. March 25, 2018

An important film for parents and adolescents!

Race to Nowhere gives a very important perspective on the epidemic of anxiety and depression that is impacting today's adolescents. It follows the stories of several teens and educators who have attempted to run the "race" to achieve at the highest levels and the significant costs they have paid. At once heartbreaking and compelling, this film sheds real light on some of the root causes of the epidemic. I highly recommend this film for ALL parents and for teens as well.
Adult Written byJay J. March 25, 2018


As a teacher and a parent, I think that this movie is a must-watch. It highlights what most people are afraid to talk about, namely society's pressures to have perfect kids. Hugely powerful for middle/high school-aged students and parents to spark a discussion about this important and prevalent issue.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written byHapHaxion September 7, 2015
Adult Written byqwrtyuiop March 28, 2012

Well-disguised progressive attempt at pushing an agenda

This movie is a very well-disguised progressive attempt at pushing a no homework agenda and encouraging strong school value parents to mellow out and not pressure or push their children to excel. This is to further their agenda to dumb-down our top performing American students who fill the majority of college admission spots, hence leveling the playing field and creating enhanced college opportunities for lower achieving, less motivated and more difficult students. (It is easier to bring down top performers than it is to pull up the poor performers). By bundling together a few isolated incidents of over stressed, suicidal kids and their really concerned parents, this film strives to make the case that all achievement motivated kids are chronically stressed out and you won't even no it because they hide it so well. This film fails to address students from other non-Bay Area locations and does not address the issues of the students from the ‘other’ demographic which make-up the majority of students, especially in California where the film is made. Progressives like to disguise their message, but making it all about helping YOU. How does eliminating homework and encouragement for your child to learn and excel, help your child, really? How will your kids learn math if they don't practice it at home?
Parent of a 17-year-old Written byBiJay March 12, 2011

Shame -- what a terrible movie to show to a sensitive teenager.

Teenagers are very sensitive and can easily be influenced, positively or negatively. They hear what they want to hear. This dejected movie tells them, at least for the first 20 or so minutes, don't do homework, don’t fall into parents pressure, don't take any after school activity, or don't drive to be the best!
Tells the teachers: don't give homework, don't push them to learn, or don't ask the teens to do anything. The movie tells the parents: don't pressure your children to do their best, don't help them to pursue their dreams, and don't ask them to do anything. What should they do then? It is left to the viewer.

Right from the beginning, it is obvious that the amateur filmmaker Vicki Abeles, has been depressed, has had problems with her family, especially with medical and emotional problems of her own three children, and has been under the impression that the suicide of a teenager is related to school.

The first time movie maker claims that she is exploring the culture of high achievement within her own family, her Bay Area community and around the country. The one sided interviews with selected students, parents, teachers and academicians in a selected area (only four cities) points out the negatives of our educational process. And that is a shame.

But, certainly this is not her intention. The stated goal of the film is "to foster dialogue." What she wants to stress is the issues, problems, and test-centered education as a result of the no-child-left-behind idea. Then, if this is the case, why she does not point to the fact that these are the issues that the parents, teachers, and politicians need to be aware of and start to initiate a dialogue for change. Why the issue of homework is over emphasized? And why the movie, through repeated interviews with selected individuals claims that everything which goes wrong with teenagers, has to do with the pressure of overachievers. Is the suicide of a 13-year old student associated with a failing grade in a course? Couldn't it be related to the fact that she had been depressed for a while, but her parents did not realize it to get professional help? Couldn't it be related to the fact that any teenager can go through a critical period during the adolescence, but the teachers and parents need to be opening their eyes? And finally, why the title of the movie is "Race to Nowhere", rather than being "Issues, Pay Attention?" Race to nowhere implies to the teenagers that there is no future, why bother.

Probably the intention of first time movie maker is to depict the issues that teenagers are facing, the problem with our educational systems or the need for change. Unfortunately, certain critical issues have been negatively overemphasized. How can a coach teach someone to play basketball? Certainly, not by recommending to sit on a couch and listen; rather, to ask the player to practice, and practice, and practice. What is the point of repeated interview of "homework" is bad? The point is the overdose of anything is bad.

Finally, she gets it right; at the end of the movie, she summarizes the main points in a writing form; for example parents should ask children how they feel, reduce performance pressure, or know the signs of childhood depression; educators should evaluate each student on an individual basis, engage students in learning, or recognize the unique talents of each individual. Students should speak to the adults, get plenty of sleep, or do things that they enjoy.