Saturday, March 19, 2011

What Happens When Moms Have Vision? by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

I want to take a moment and promote a film I think can have far reaching consequences for children in this country. Mother, Vicki Abeles has created a documentary, Race to Nowhere, that looks at our education system and the competitive culture it has spawned in the United States today. As a filmmaker, I am impressed with her work; as a mother, I am inspired by her drive and vision; as a educator, I am thankful for the discussion this film is generating across the country.

The website, is set up to facilitate grassroots screenings of this film, which had a theatrical release in September 2010. Through the screening tab one can find a screening in their state and also host a screening in their local area. Conceptually, it is the tupperware party concept writ large. What is so wonderfully inspiring about this moment for me, is how once again it is a mother who has taken a spotlight to an issue that needs addressing. And Ms. Abeles has gone one step further and created a forum for making it possible to show this film in just about any venue—it is possible for mothers to bring this film home. As is the case in Prescott, Arizona, where three mothers went to see Race to Nowhere in Flagstaff and then decided to bring the film to Prescott—the power of women connecting to women is still so underutilized, but here is a moment when this power is being unleashed.

For me, so much of the invisibility of motherhood is how devalued I have felt in the role as mother. As someone who was defined by a paycheck and my work life before I had children, the transition to motherhood, with its intangible rewards, was quite painful and difficult. When I see the force of Ms. Abeles work and vision, I am reminded that motherhood is not just about managing an individual’s family, but conceptually, it is also possible to manage a collective consciousness and help determine what is best for our society.

Sadly, “divide and conquer” is still the norm with regard to women in our culture. All the divisions that are set up and absorbed into our psyches—that let us define ourselves and decided on the “otherness” of those we chose to exclude—means that the real needs of mothers go unmet. To define all those needs now would be to distract from my true aim, which is to promote Race to Nowhere. But this film’s distribution model is one that truly taps into the notion that collectively mothers are a force for change.

I hope you’ll join me in watching the Race to Nowhere and even consider hosting it in your area. One mother can make a difference, especially when she invites us each to do what we do best: connect with other mothers and manage our family, in this case, the bigger family of our society.

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