Certainly among the greatest highlights of the NAIS Annual Conference this year was the presentation and speech by John Hunter, 4th grade teacher and founder of the World Peace Game. John is a member of what I think is among the very most exciting school districts in the country, the Albemarle County School district headed by the terrific Pam Moran, about whom I recently wrote as a model of leading learning forward. What is exciting for the members of NAIS is that he is becoming in a sense an adjunct member of our association, thanks to his recent appointment as a Fellow of the Martin Institute, which is a program in Memphis of Presbyterian Day School, an NAIS member school headed by Lee Burns.
When asked what he was to do as a teacher first starting out, he was answered “what do you want to do?” Let’s invite teachers to teach to their passions; let’s ensure they have the opportunity to do what they want to do even as we ensure they are carrying out our school’s mission.
Quotes from his very inspiring talk, which you really should take the time to see.
The game has these 50 interlocking problems and I throw them into this complex matrix and they trust me because we have a rich deep relationship together.
They learn to overlook short sighted reactions and think in a long term, more consequential way.
Student: You are learning to take care of the world.
I can’t tell them anything because I don’t know the answer. I admit the truth- I don’t know. Because I don’t know, they have to dig up the answer.
Maybe this game will help you to learn how to fix the world for us.
Who’s in charge of this classroom? It is a serious question. Who is really in charge I have learned to cede control of the classroom to the students over time. There is a trust and an understanding and a dedication to an ideal that simply don’t have to do what I thought I had to as a beginning to teacher to control every conversation they have in the classroom: their collective wisdom is much greater than mine.
That’s the kind of engagement you want to have happen. I can’t design that, I can’t plan that, I can’t even test that. But it is self-evident assessment; we know that’s an authentic assessment of learning. We have a lot of data but sometimes we go beyond data with the real truth of what is going on.
For more about John Hunter and his World Peace Game, a new movie is available. The trailer is below; I have a copy and hope to see and share thoughts about it soon.