Sunday, March 27, 2011

Race To Nowhere

Greetings everyone! My tendency is to get obsessed with things and then let them slide. This blog may be no exception. I love it, but it's time consuming. Somehow, time has become a precious commodity. There never seems to be enough of it. However, I have a new obsession bubbling over, so I figure I'll take the time to blog about it.

I just saw the movie "Race to Nowhere." It's a documentary about "the dark side of our high performance culture." I'll sum up my reaction to it in three words...color me rattled. What this movie shows is how we push our kids into too many activities, how our schools (elementary, high school and college) stress and burn out our kids with too much homework and too high an emphasis on test scores with a lack of regard for personal development, healthy relaxation and creativity. Of course government is in on the action. Schools' funding is dependent on achieving high test scores forcing teachers to focus on "teaching to the test," pushing aside creative thinking and teaching our kids to work in groups which are skills that are used in the real world. The "top colleges" demand a transcript full of AP courses, high standardized test scores and a full resume of extra curricular activities. This looks great on paper but the reality of it is ugly. The workload associated with AP courses is overwhelming (and the "regular" courses aren't exactly a free ride either). These kids are spending six hours in school and then come home to 3-4 hours of homework. I don't know of an activity that is less than an hour and a half round trip with most being longer, so that's the cherry on top of the workload. It's not uncommon for kids to be up until the early hours of the a.m. to get it all done. This is what the "good schools" say you need to be doing to get in. Of course, if you don't go to a "good school" you'll never get a "good job" and make lots of money so it all filters down. Now, I'm not placing the sole blame on colleges. It's a really complicated problem that spans from government, to schools on all levels, right down to individuals. Good luck finding a solution that satisfies all of these parties.

What bothered me the most about all of this is how as parents we've just accepted this and also use it as the standard of achievement. It's hard not to. I feel like we are besieged with the message that if we don't push our kids to get the homework done, get the high test scores and participate in the activities that they're not going to be successful. We want to give our kids every advantage, but are we really? I have yet to meet a parent that says "I just love all of the running around we do." Everyone I know is saying, "This is nuts," but no one does anything to change it. Why? I have to believe that it's out of fear that if we don't participate, our kids will not only not be successful, but they're going to be left out. Most of us roll with the majority and what our friends are doing.

So here's the deal. It's not realistic for me to go stomping capitol hill and campaigning for changes in the government, but it is realistic for my husband and I to get a hold on what's going on in our house. After all, it's not my kids who are filling out the forms and sending in the checks for these activities. We do have a choice. I'm going to ask myself what are they really getting out of these activities? I suspect if I did some research, most three year olds don't even have the mental capacity to engage in "team sports" so I think I'll ditch the organized t-ball for playing in the back yard. There's two hours of my life I just got back. If I want it to be more social, I'll invite a friend over. Just because we've seen footage of Tiger Woods having a monster golf swing at age three doesn't mean this is the path we all have to go down for success. And P.S. I'm not sure it worked out so well for him either. Maybe we should ask the question if elementary football really requires a four night a week commitment. Do we really have to spend our weekends traveling with our ten year olds for soccer and baseball? If your kids love it and you love it - great. Knock yourself out. However, most parents don't love it. It's a strain. Statistically, the majority of these kids who start at such a young age aren't even going to play through college let alone go pro. So doing it in the name of their success really doesn't add up. Meanwhile everyone is run ragged. At my house we're good with homework now, but if my kids start sacrificing their sleep and are doing it at the expense of everything else, it's time to have a chit chat with the folks at school. As for developing a stellar transcript for college, there has to be a correlation of what's on that paper to real life. Enron looked okay on paper too...for a while. Trust that the reality will always make itself known. If our kids are stressed, depressed and exhausted, that transcript is no measure of success.

Grant you, an hour and a half documentary should not be the soul source of an opinion, but let me tell you, it was a real eye opener. It's hard to see a problem when it's so big and we're all so entrenched in it. It's really worthwhile to go see this film. To check out the website and find a screening click here. It made me realize that I shouldn't just accept what is generally accepted especially when my gut is telling me that it's all too much. Be sure to go to the research section. I'm only a mommy blogger pontificating on a movie, but some pretty big brains have researched this stuff. We just have to get our heads wrapped around it and be brave enough to make some changes. Again, maybe some of you out there really thrive in this environment but I think the majority of us feel that we're fighting to keep our head above water. It's time to take the reigns.

Here's to choices that are right for you and a bright future!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

If You Build it They Will Come - Let Me Know How That Works Out For You

Hi Everyone! Some have asked me, "Am I off the list for your blog? I haven't gotten anything in a while." That would be a no. You're on the list, it's just that yours truly hasn't written jack in months. I can't quite explain just didn't make it to the top of the priority list these past few months. But Alas! It is now 2011. It is time for resolutions and fresh starts, so here I am!

Here's the deal. I have always wanted to develop one of my interests into a money making business. I have also always had the vision of being self employed and working from home to build in that flexibility we busy moms need (hello bazillion half days of school). Who doesn't love the vision of these infomercials where these people are lounging pool side spending time with their family because they developed a business so easy and so profitable that the cash practically runs into their accounts at the press of a button? I love the "Mom-preneurs" that occasionally show up on a talk show (I think Oprah had one). Julie Clark, founder of the Baby Einstein company made a video for babies on a shoestring budget. Poof! Millionaire! Some lady started making "gibets" for her kids' Crocs at her kitchen table. People liked it. Bam! Gazilionaire! If only it were that easy! It's kind of like Santa Clause. You love the idea and the magic of it all, but you know what the real deal is. Developing your own business is hard. Any show that suggests that all you need is a great idea and that it will grow organically into a successful business may as well be selling crack pipes. I can only imagine the number of flights Julie Clark and the Gibit chick got on to figure out production and distribution of their product. Successful businesses are blood sweat and tears to get started...period. As for myself, I am embarking on yet another entrepreneurial journey. I've tried my hand at freelance marketing and a network marketing business. I dabbled in a food business and here I am blogging. I'm game for a lot of ideas and not afraid to put it out there for a test run. One of these days I'm going to find what works. My newest entrepreneurial venture is a specialty medical marketing business. I have two partners which I think will be the key to our really does take a village. I'll keep blogging about whatever I feel like, but rest assured, my adventures in entrepreneurship will surely make an appearance here and there. Wish me luck.

By the way, if I could make an income blogging, I would totally do it. I just don't have a clue as to how. I bought two books on the subject. I don't think I'm cut out for hard core, money making blogging, but I do have fun with it. Bless my friends who get a kick out of what I write, but here's the and my eight followers aren't exactly taking it to the top. So, while big buck blogging doesn't appear to be in my future, I would be very happy to work on growing "followers." As a group, I swear my girlfriends could run the universe. Surely, someone out there knows a good way to increase followers? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? (Sorry, had to be done). I don't think you can comment on this blog unless you have a gmail account or are a follower (C'Mon! Take the plunge!). If that's too daunting, just send me an e-mail. Right above the comment box, you'll see a series of "buttons." Just click the envelope to e-mail me.

Happy new year everyone! Here's to putting yourself out there and doing great things in 2011!