Nearly four hundred people, an unprecedented turnout for our small community, packed the RHS auditorium Friday night for the Race to Nowhere screening.  The film & discussion touched on the following topics:

Effects of Stress on Young People – we know it damages virtually every kind of cognition that exists, including memory, immune response, and ability to sleep.  Children are often unable to communicate their feelings accurately and are more likely to experience physical symptoms, notably repeated abdominal pain without a known cause.

Sleep Deprivation – Children between the ages of 5-12 need 10-11 hours of sleep a
night.  Studies show 80% of teens don’t get the recommended amount of sleep. When asked at a BMS Health and Wellness Day seminar last year, 100% of students responded they were sleep deprived.

Teen Suicide– It’s on the rise and studies show depression in adolescence frequently
co-occurs with other disorders such as anxiety, eating disorders, or substance abuse.

Emphasis on Breadth Versus Depth in Advanced Placement Courses – The curriculum that gets covered in AP courses is driven by the AP test that students pay for and take at the end of the course – these tests are NOT created by the teacher, but
rather by an outside organization called the College Board.  Teachers do not have time to delve deeper into concepts or follow inquiries or new “trains of thought” initiated by

Study Drugs on the Rise –The use of stimulants such as Aderall and Ritalin are on
the rise in middle school through college aged students.  The drugs allow students to stay up later and remain focused on work.  Often times, other drugs are then needed to “come down” and allow for sleep, creating a vicious cycle.

Recreational Drugs more Potent and Easily Accessible – Our society has normalized the use of drugs to feel up, down, retain focus, lose weight, etc.  Young people are faced with the decision to try drugs at increasingly earlier ages and they lack the cognitive functioning to be able to make sound choices.  Highly addictive drugs such as OxyContin are easily accessible, though costly, and leading to an increase in Heroin use, which is far cheaper.

Whole Child Approach vs Achievement Approach – Our children bring a love of learning to the table, let’s foster it and appreciate them for who they are.

Developing Creative Thinkers -Developing creative thinking, problem solving abilities, and collaboration skills, means going beyond learning a lot of facts.  Facts have to be connected into ways of knowing within various disciplines.  It takes time and trial and error and failure. High stakes testing doesn’t allow for failure.  External pressures are
setting a lot of policies in education and maybe it’s time to talk within schools about changing this paradigm.

Thanks to our expert panelists: Elizabeth Steele, Emily Dunuwila, Dr. David Fenner, Dr. Suzanne Button, Dr. Katie Zahidi, Chantal Collins, Robert Heywood, and Janet Stetson, and to our super-duper facilitator, John Nathan, who kept things rolling & positive.
The sinking feeling in my gut”, as Paul Richards, Principal of a High School in Massachusetts puts it, “ is that we’re producing a generation that can perform very well on what we give them.  They can study for a test and regurgitate the material, but the creativity, the individuality, the innovation, continue to be pushed aside. ..we’re producing a generation that will have the wrong skill set for what society really needs.”

Father Richard and Rhinebeck’s Church of the Messiah gave a gift to our community that will impact us for years to come.

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