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.
The most beautiful moment is when I stand in the classroom after we've worked out an assignment together (backwards design and assessment) and the work begins.— John Hunter
The World Peace Game is a hands-on political simulation that gives players the opportunity to explore the connectedness of the global community through the lens of the economic, social, and environmental crises and the imminent threat of war. The goal of the game is to extricate each country from dangerous circumstances and achieve global prosperity with the least amount of military intervention. As "nation teams," students will gain greater understanding of the critical impact of information and how it is used.
As their teams venture further into this interactive social setting laced with highly charged philosophical issues, the skills needed to identify ambiguity and bias in the information they receive will be enhanced and more specifically they will rapidly perceive that reactive behavior not only provokes antagonism, it can leave them alone and isolated in the face of powerful enemies. Beliefs and values will evolve or completely unravel as they begin to experience the positive impact and windows of opportunity that emerge through effective collaboration and refined communication.
In essence, as meaning is constructed out of chaos and new creative solutions are proposed, players of The World Peace Game will learn to live and work comfortably at the frontiers of the unknown.