Articles in Category: News
John Hunter and Bill Gates will be the two keynote speakers at the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference beginning on February 29, 2012. This year the conference is in Seattle, Washington and will be attended by over 3,500 teachers and school leaders from independent schools in the U.S. and abroad. The theme of the conference is Innovation: Imagine, Invent, Inspire, Dream. It is easy to see how both Bill Gates and John Hunter are fitting representatives of the innovative spirit that education’s future is dependent on.
John will be speaking at 9:30am on Friday, March 2. Conference registration is required. In addition, John Hunter will be displaying his World Peace Game in an exhibit booth along with the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence, an education foundation in Memphis, Tennessee, that is working with Hunter to bring learning experiences for teachers to cities around the country.
“I’m sorry class, but we’re going to have fun today.” This is how teacher, musician, composer and game designer John Hunter starts his class in the 2010 documentary World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements, which tells the story of how he uses his World Peace Game to help students work to solve global issues. In an age of smartphones and tablets, Hunter has had much success bringing his multi-level board game to classrooms all over the world.
Tasked with using negotiation and problem-solving skills to get countries to work together instead of resorting to war, children spend hours going through the political simulation, working in “nation-teams” to do what diplomats with years of experience struggle with everyday.
Hunter, an elementary-school teacher, is a legend in his home state of Virginia, where the World Peace Game he designed in 1978 allows fourth-graders to game out various scenarios of global doom or global cooperation. The game, which is played on a huge multi-level board and is a bit like an analog version of The Sims, got traction nationally when Charlottesville-based filmmaker Chris Farina turned it into a documentary film that had many screenings last year and is still making the rounds at film festivals. As World Peace and Other Fourth-Grade Achievements has quietly circulated in the education world, Hunter has given TED talks and addressed audiences around the country about the game’s power to inspire students and teachers. The film, which emphasizes not only children’s optimism, but also the game’s power to teach collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, speaks to a lot of people in education. When I moderated a screening at Harvard last year, several audience members were moved to tears. The film should see wider distribution in 2012, and Hunter has started a foundation to advance the work behind the World Peace Game and hopefully spawn high-quality imitators.
–By: Andrew J. Rotherham
The Martin Institute is pleased to announce that teacher John Hunter, a 4th grade teacher with Albemarle County Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been named as the first Martin Institute Teaching Excellence Fellow. Much attention has been brought to John Hunter’s teaching because of his 2011 TEDtalk, which was named by TED and the Huffington Post as the most influential TEDtalk of 2011.
John Hunter believes that his fourth grade students can solve world peace, as well as develop strategies for solving nuclear disasters, oil spills, global warming, endangered species issues, mineral rights, water rights—a total of about 30 interlocking, real world problems. John sets The World Peace Game in motion and then guides his students through the critical and strategic thinking, collaboration, and negotiation processes needed to understand and develop solutions for these global issues. Hunter explains, “The World Peace Game is about learning to live and work comfortably in the unknown.”
In a special year-end collaboration TED and The Huffington Post reviewed 18 great ideas of 2011 via posts featuring the full TEDTalk with original blog posts that the two organizations think will shape 2012. The nearly month long count down has highlighted a variety of bold, groundbreaking, and thought-provoking voices. John and the rest of the team at the foundation couldn’t be more excited that on December 26 John’s talk was named the #1 TEDTalk of 2011 by Arianna Huffington and Chris Anderson.
Click here to view the post on John’s talk, excerpt below.
Each month this school year, NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday will celebrate stories of public school teachers across the country as a component of StoryCorp’s National Teachers Initiative. This week the initiative highlighted John and two former World Peace Game players. The above images and excerpt below were published on December 25, 2011 by StoryCorp. To read the complete story or listen to the story via NPR’s media player, click here.
From NPR’s StoryCorp and Weekend Edition:
John Hunter’s fourth-graders are remarkably successful at resolving world crises peacefully.
A very busy and exciting time for the film and for advancing John’s work and the World Peace Game.
Here’s a link to our presentation at Google’s Mountain View campus last May. This includes our 8-minute trailer, and then a Q&A with John and Chris regarding John’s work, the film, and our hopes for creating educational impact with John’s work in the future.
John was brought to Belgium for yet another TEDx presentation held at the historic Flemish Opera House in Antwerp.
John was invited as a main speaker at the 2nd annual Education Nation Summit “Teacher Town Hall” held by NBC/MSNBC at it Rockefeller Plaza tent studio on September. John was on nation television for almost twenty minutes interviewed by media anchors Brian Williams and Peter Alexander. The broadcast and Internet reach was said to have drawn 52 million viewers.
Chris and John attended the E-Learning Conference and Expo in Anaheim California on September 29th. The film was screened and John joined Sal Khan of the Khan Academy as a keynote speaker for this business technology–oriented conference attend by 850 executives and another 1500 online attendees. Following John’s address he was presented the Crystal Apple Teaching Excellence Teacher of the Year Award by the ELearning Business community.
John was interviewed by Buzzine, a hip, trend setting online culture magazine. Clare Elfsman, former teacher, activist, writer, and actress asked deep and probing questions of John about the game and his life.
Legacy Award – Charlottesville Virginia
On October 28th, John received the first John E. Baker Legacy Award for contributions to education presented by the African-American Teaching Fellows at a formal dinner at the Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville Virginia. ()
We traveled to Boston on November 1st for a TEDx event with John giving the closing session talk and the film being screened that evening in the WGBH-Public Television Studios. Special thanks to Stephen Baker of the Baker Design Group for making this happen.
The next night John and Chris presented the film at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, (PON) at Langdell Hall. Not only were Law School grad students in attendance, but also a number of Harvard’s Education School students showed up for a lively and intense discussion after the talk!
The United States Defense Department, The Pentagon
On November 4th, at the invitation of the Assistant to The Undersecretary of Defense Flournoy, we visited the Pentagon for a private screening with the Secretary’s policy group. A fascinating and deep discussion ensued afterwards, with questions from the staff about how our children interpret Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and how they tackle the concept of emptiness in the World Peace Game!
On Sunday November 6th John and Chris visited Virginia Commonwealth University (John’s alma mater) in Richmond Virginia for a screening and post-film discussion at the request of the VCU School of World Studies—Religious Studies Program and The Dialogue Forum at VCU. A highlight for John was the attendance of Tracy Brower, a former student of John’s from the first ever generation to play the world Peace Game in 1978!! Special thanks to Dr. David Bromley and Jacqueline Pogue for making this event possible.
Memphis Independent Schools – Memphis Tennessee (via Skype)
The same day as the VCU visit, the film is being seen by a group of private school administrators in Memphis, with Chris and John participating in a post-film discussion via a skype video interview.
The following week, the film was introduced to public television programmers from around the country at American Public Television’s Marketplace in Memphis on November 12. A warm standing ovation after John’s closing keynote address.
Immediately following his address John and Chris dashed to a citywide screening of the film in Memphis at Malco’s Ridgeway 4 Theater. The film was actually screened with staggered start times, in two adjoining theaters for an overflow crowd of educators, so John and Chris ran from one theater to the other to engage in post-film discussions! The Martin Institute of Memphis sponsored the event. Special thanks to Jamie Baker for setting this up.
The Film – World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements
In other news the work on writing the study guide to accompany the film for its eventual usage by educators is underway. We hope to have this completed by the end of 2011, and then have the DVD available for educational institutions by early 2012. This is very exciting in that the guide will focus on using John’s work as portrayed in the film as a vehicle for training, influencing and inspiring both in-service and pre-service teachers. A key component of our mission has always been to extend John’s influence, particularly to young and future educators, and this study guide will play an integral role through which the film can assist this work for years to come.
The World Peace Game Book Publication
It appears that John has reached an agreement to publish the story of the World Peace Game with a Manhattan publishing house (with Mr. Eamon Dolan’s imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) through the efforts of the Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency also in New York City. This will be great for extending the legacy of the Game and John’s teaching methods. More details as they emerge.
Seeking Reflections from Former Players
- Can you remember an incident in the World Peace Game that affected the way you behaved or the way you felt about a situation in your adult life? What was the incident and how did it affect you?
- Can you think of an incident in your adult life that was affected by your playing the World Peace Game? What was that incident? How did you handle it? How did you feel? How were your actions and feelings shaped by your World Peace Game experience?
- I’ve identified 7 stages that students tend to go through as they confront the World Peace Game experience—or any complex group experience. Do any of these stages ring any bells or set off any memories…either from your World Peace Game experience or your current life? Can you tell us about what stories, ideas, thoughts, memories come to mind as a result?
- Confusion/feeling overwhelmed: too much going on, too complex, can’t process it
- Feeling like a failure: individual efforts have fallen flat, nothing seems to work
- Personal understanding: you see something you can do, but you’re still acting as an individual
- Collaboration: you start to get the idea that there is something greater than yourself
- Flow: you’re living in the moment, feeling at-one with your experience and with the world
- Click: you “get it,” your awareness moves to a higher or deeper level; sudden wonder, lightning & thunder of “this moment”—the aha!
- Application of understanding: You see how to take action to apply what you have learned; you feel the interrelatedness of all things; you feel the power of the group
Sharing The Game
Talks continue with several parties on the feasibility of replicating the game, both physically and virtually and considerations about the training of facilitators. This past summer at the World Peace Game Academy held at the Darden Business School on the campus of the University of Virginia, John employed several former Game players to begin training in how to administer the exercise in the future. These six trainee facilitators are some of the best strategists, tacticians and creative thinkers ever to play the game. It may be a bit of time before they can facilitate the game for they are just 11-12 years-old! Possibilities for adults to apprentice are being explored.
Here On Earth – Wisconsin Public Radio
Wednesday, December 7, 3pm Central
John and Chris will be live with Wisconsin’s Public Radio – Here on Earth. Friends, current, and former students are invited to call in at 1-877-GLOBE-07 during the show. A podcast of the program will be available following the broadcast.
Additional Upcoming Events
March 2012 – Keynote to the US Independent Schools Association conference in Seattle
February 2012 – Tentative 2nd International World Peace game, Oslo Norway
Spring 2012 – Screening at the UN, date TBD