Monday, April 1, 2013
Okay, so I'm slipping. Paul Rudd and Tina Fey's Admission opened the weekend before last. And yes, I did see it in previews, yet I'm just now putting up the post. I suppose it was because originally, I didn't have a lot to impart about this movie. But I found an interesting tie in this week, which inspired me to write.
Fey plays Portia a woman who by her mother's standards, (a notable feminist activist, played outrageously by Lily Tomlin), didn't amount to much, even though Portia is one of the top Admission Faculty at Princeton University.
Rudd plays John Pressman, a man with a privileged background who prefers to visit third world countries to help with irrigation, food, farming etc... He has an adopted son from one of these underdeveloped lands. At this point he's living in The States as headmaster of a very unconventional prep school of sorts, which encourages its students to be civic minded, outspoken, community driven, original thinkers etc..
John has two reasons for trying to reach out to Portia, well three but the attraction part comes later. 1) he wants Portia to consider his students as possible Princeton hopefuls. 2) He wants her to take particular interest in one kid, Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) because he suspects Jeremiah is the child Portia gave up at birth. Turns out John & Portia went to the same University, he knew of her, but she didn't know him.
Here's the tie in: Throughout the movie when Portia goes to visit a high school, she anticipates the one burning question each student shares - What's the secret for getting in?
I was listening to "This American Life" I just LOVE this NPR radio program. The host, Ira Glass has a nebbishy, nasal twang which should be annoying, but I find it to be a soothing voice of good humor. The show is so damn perfectly produced. I'm always amazed how they can make even an over used theme like the American education system, be exceedingly interesting, entertaining and thoughtful. It was actually an archived show from last year, which examined the secret for getting in - not just into college, but rather getting into and succeeding in life!
It began by examining cognitive skills (IQ/book smarts) and how research show this is not the determining factor for succeeding in life. It's the non-cognitive skills (resilience, optimism, grit, resourcefulness) which seems to be the key factors for creating a fulfilling existence and these skills are very rarely being taught in school.
The show goes into why so many children born into poverty do so poorly in school. Simple, it's because they don't have money, right? Well, according to the psychologist and economist featured in the program, the problem is stress. Children in poor neighborhoods see so much violence and have so many worries about their safety and that of their families, they are in a constant state of "fight or flight", which turns off both cognitive and non-cognitive skills and turns on sheer primal instincts. These primal instincts are great for surviving, but awful for thriving.
Here's the hope, that every city would adopt two non-profit programs currently being run in Illinois: Ounce of Prevention which teaches parents how to nurture and relate to their children while they are still in the early stages of development. On the show, we hear from a mother who never understood the importance of explaining to her child why she was angry or saying "No". She said she just used to yell and say, "because I said so". A phrase ill-equipped parents use all too often. Her experience with the program becomes even more heartwarming when she speaks of looking forward to being with her daughter now, where as before she saw her as a burden.
The other program is called One Goal. It teaches high school students life lessons in leadership principals. The young woman interviewed was heading in the wrong direction, arrested for stealing and assaulting a cop. After attending One Goal classes, she went on to college, where not only was she earning a high GPA, she was creating a full and enjoyable college experience.
Personally, as much as I hope these programs grow to other cities to help underprivileged youths and parents; I can't help but wonder about my own less than stellar "non-cognitive" skills. I'm an African American female who grew up in a predominately white middle class suburb with two parents in the home and I'm still just basically surviving life, not thriving.
I love Tinsel & Tine, but it needs to be what I do; I can't keep being miserable every day.
If not T & T, then I know I need to find employment that is in line with my talents and interests, but I'm paralyzed. I want to be in a healthy relationship with a man; a healthy relationship with food; I need to get out of debt; I want better time management. And most importantly, I want to know that sense of well-being that allows you to feel like you are truly living your life.
Where's the One Goal for those already out of high school? Perhaps that whole Life Coach thing is not such malarkey. Are there life coach scholarships? Now I'm just rambling... at any rate, here's the podcast of this episode on "This American Life".
Philly Film Blog