“World Peace & Other 4th Grade Achievements” airs on Wednesday, June 6 on KSPS 7.2 at 4p.m. in Spokane and it’s a program for adults as well as kids.
This program is about world peace … what a concept. And although it’s a game that deals with real world problems like water rights, it’s also reality for this class of 4th grade students in Virginia over eight weeks.
The brainchild of public school teacher John Hunter of Charlottesville, Virginia, the World Peace Game is much more than the title suggests. To students who are pitted against each other in groups, it is an 8-week lesson in collaboration, communication and empathy.
Hunter’s diverse background inspires his teaching career. An African-American who attended segregated schools in rural Virginia where his mother was his 4th grade teacher, he was chosen to be one of seven students to integrate a previously all-white middle school. Later in life he traveled extensively to China, Japan and Indian where he was introduced to the Ghandian principles of non-violence.
Hunter says the students learn through the process of competing against each other politically, socially, militarily and economically.
“It is both challenging and thrilling … and those are the tensions where learning occurs,” Hunter says in the film.
Some of the comments from the students are very telling about what the game accomplishes.
“It’s a game that makes you think really hard about what’s going on in the world,” says one boy.
“There is no right or wrong answer … and if you wanted a right answer, choose the one that helps everyone and then think about yourself,” says another.
Hunter’s poignant comment speaks volumes. “If just one of you is in a position to leverage something good for the world … just one of you is in that kind of position … that could make all the difference. If you picked up a tool from this game … a thinking tool or a critical thinking tool, that may save us all.”
It's a fascinating look at what can be accomplished even if we're hearing it from the "mouths of babes."