FEED YOUR MIND. SEE THE WORLD. MAKE IT A BETTER PLACE. The Children’s Film Festival Seattle was started with the idea that children can only change the world if they see it. This year there were 190 films for children from 50 countries. Watching these films from all over the world exposes the children to a beautiful tapestry of diversity and expression, and also shows us how we are very similar in our day-to-day lives. We have much in common with people from vastly different cultures. A major theme on the film Festival’s website is bringing global awareness to children.
World Geography has been a major theme in our middle school curriculum this year. What better way to
connect students to other cultures and places than through great storytelling through short films about kids, and for kids, from all over the world? Our middle school and upper elementary classes attended a private showing of an 80 minute, 8-film series called “Destination”. This series featured films from eight countries; touching on subjects such as global culture, overcoming difficulties, combating discrimination, and doing the right thing.
J. Donald Walters, Author of Education for Life: Preparing Children for Today’s Challenges, says “Happiness increases in direct proportion to the expansion of empathy”. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. My hope was that the students would come away with a sense of why we, at Living Wisdom School, strive to embrace diversity, social inclusion, empathy, care for our planet, teamwork, love and kindness. Humans all over the planet have the same longings in life, to be loved, to be happy, to belong and to find deeper meaning in life.
I am always looking for new and innovative ways to help these older children mature into radiant, loving, happy adults. Walters also stated that “maturity is the ability to relate to other people’s realities.” In our class, we watch Ted Talks and Great Big Story several times a week. In this way, we use technology to expand the children’s horizons, taking them to other countries where they can meet interesting people from other cultures, and open their hearts and minds to different realities. I want to help them make connections with people around the world so they may see the inter-connectedness of all life – that we live in a global web of humanity.
I have a jar in class with a hundred small strips of paper in it, each with one word on it. The word can be a noun, a feeling, an idea, really anything. Examples are: fire, peace, brave, earth, money, wonder, travel, whale, sky, adventure, shelter, movement, words, sustainability, master, space, beauty, birth, snow, smile, happiness, etc. As I walk around the classroom, the students reach into the jar and pick two random words. Then they brainstorm on ways to make a meaningful connection between the two words. Sometimes it can be challenging, but usually with enough thought, they come up with creative connections. We follow up with free writing for fifteen minutes, connecting the two words into stories and ideas, which we then read aloud. The students really enjoy this activity.
“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Middle School Teacher
Living Wisdom School Washington