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World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 23 February 2012



World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 140
Posted DateThursday 23 February 2012 18:55 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

I recently received an email from Jamie Feild Baker of the The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence who told me all about John Hunter and his World Peace Game and who has since sent me a full-length copy of the film World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements

As I first watched the film and the complexity of the game started to dawn on me, I was highly sceptical that these 4th graders could possibly cope with it. I was wrong, so damned wrong! Watching the kids handle the complexities and ambiguities of the game is absolutely delightful. I'd have little problem with putting them in charge of the world tomorrow!

Take a look at the trailer below - it gives a fair insight into the game and kids.

This is what education should be like and be about. I am so impressed with John Hunter. Jamie - a big thanks for sharing this with me.

World Peace...and other 4th-grade achievements interweaves the story of John Hunter, a teacher in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his students' participation in an exercise called the World Peace Game.

The game triggers an eight-week transformation of the children from students of a neighborhood public school to citizens of the world.

The film reveals how a wise, loving teacher can unleash students' full potential.

The film traces how Hunter's unique teaching career emerges from his own diverse background.

An African-American educated in the segregated schools of rural Virginia, where his mother was his 4th grade teacher, he was selected by his community to be one of seven students to integrate a previously all-white middle school.

After graduation, he traveled extensively to China, Japan, and India, and his exposure to the Ghandian principles of non-violence led him to ask what he could do as a teacher to work toward a more peaceful world.

Hunter teaches the concept of peace not as a utopian dream but as an attainable goal to strive for, and he provides his students with the tools for this effort.

The children learn to collaborate and communicate with each other as they work to resolve the Game's conflicts.

They learn how to compromise while accommodating different perspectives and interests. Most importantly, the students discover that they share a deep and abiding interest in taking care of each other. World Peace ... and other 4th-grade achievements will inspire others by documenting the unheralded work of a true peacemaker.

World Peace Game's Core Principles

  • Contradictory elements can and should co-exist
  • Deliberate creation of an overwhelming sense of diverse complexity or fostering, in other words…chaos
  • Encouragement of complex problem solving in a collaborative situation
  • Stimulate the development of empathy and compassion
  • Promote the ability to hold and maintain multiple perspectives simultaneously, around an issue while withholding judgment
  • Slowing down the problem solving process, provides:
    • Depth over time – Stimulation of and support for long term thinking
    • Increase in possible solutions
    • Richness (complexity)
  • Promote critical thinking via:
    • Apprehending the natural inherent complexity and simplicity mixture
    • Directly engaging with complexity vs. avoiding or parsing
    • Promoting non-attachment to phenomena as useful tool
  • Reveal personal inherent skills
  • Team-based solutions formed by deliberate pressures (i.e. deadlines), and a sense of urgency
  • The ability to cultivate and maintain acute problem solving skills over time
  • Facilitate Self-Reflective awareness through Self-Evident Assessment (SEA) (internalized evaluation)
  • Creation of a reflective thinking log to follow personal exploration of the process of mind habits
  • Show, understand, and appreciate the value of non-measurable outcomes.
  • Extrapolation of actions/reactions in multiple directions/levels at once
  • No experts
  • Luxury to fail
  • Flexibility
  • Elaboration

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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