Another 4th-Grade Achievement: sell-out

news-worldpeace-johnchrisIt's a small local film made on a shoe-string budget, but World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements, one of the subjects of the Hook's February 18 cover story, made a big splash in a sell-out sneak preview at the Paramount Theatre on Sunday, February 21.

"It was phenomenal!" exclaims World Peace director Chris Farina on Monday, the day after the 1,200-seat Paramount had to turn away an estimated 75 people hoping to see Farina's documentary about the game created by local teacher John Hunter. The film, and The Parking Lot Movie, another local film that actually stars Farina, will both officially premiere at the South by Southwest film festival next month.

Sunday's World Peace sneak preview was "extraordinary," gushes Paramount GM Mary Beth Aungier, who says she's exploring holding a second screening of the film in the near future.

(Above: World Peace Game teacher John Hunter, left, with director Chris Farina at the Paramount's sold-out screening of their film.)


Whirlled Peas,

Perhaps if you'd had better teachers, you'd be able to come up with a more cogent screen name--at least one that is correctly spelled. John Hunter is teaching kids conflict resolution and negotiation skills, not "brainwashing" them. Your comment shows astounding ignorance for so many reasons, not least of which is a clear lack of understanding of the meaning of communism.

This movie was so thought-provoking. It showed the incredible
impact that great teachers have. Who's that moron's teacher,
Glenn Beck?

Thank you Blake, and may your son be safe. I value the service he is giving to our country and pray for peace.

I not only saw the film but had the opportunity to be in a local classrooms while the game was being played. I thought it to be a wonderful feel good story about John Hunter.

However, as part of my work at the Curry School at UVA I evaluated this program and have to admit that what goes on in the film is NOT a completely true and accurate reflection of what went on in the classroom.

Start with the fact that Chris Farina stands to make a boatload of money if this is picked up by PBS. I am not saying that the kids didn't learn good skills, most did, but many did not and some were hurt by the experience. When someone does something with money as a motivator (not John Hunter at all, only Chris Farina) you need to take it with a grain of salt.

I don't think the film rises to the level of propaganda but the film was definitely created for financial gain so it shows a rosy picture and does not truly 'document' what happened in the classes. I would opt my child out if this was being done in my son's school. Films are not reality.

I agree that opinions from those that didn't see the film are misguided or at least ill-informed, but I will go further and say that even seeing the film is not the whole picture.

Money very often corrupts, and in this case it certainly has at least obscured the true picture.

Should people be commenting here in such nasty way, deriding people that saw the movie and have the opinion that it was not worthwhile, when they didn't even see it?

I actually got to meet John Hunter and Chris Farina and see a preview of the movie. Chris was seeking my financial support for the film. I didn't invest because I saw the film as pure and unadulterated propaganda. Does that give the people here the right to trash me personally like those above?

I feel that if you didn't see the movie then shut your trap. If you saw the movie and want to defend it then do so, but to personally attack other posters because they disagree with you is BS.

"but many did not and some were hurt by the experience." Could you give an expample of what you mean by some were hurt by the experience ?

I think the loser teacher will probably be fine without your pity, Whirlled [sic] Peas in [sic] more Like It.

The film was inspiring.It was a packed house and received a standing ovation. Teaching kids to solve conflicts on their own is not brainwashing. Telling them what to do is.
How can there be anything negative about teaching children how to solve conflicts? When did peace become a dirty word? It is a concept that has been taught by a whole spectrum of great leaders
throughout history.

I went to go see the film, what a waste of money and time. It's like brainwashing of children is now not only OK but endorsed by our schools.

Gee I feel sorry for the loser teacher who never could do anything with his life until he invented this "game" to teach the United Nations vision of the world to children.

It's bad enough that in a bad economy this communist agenda is being supported by our schools but to then try to capitalize on it financially with this "documentary" makes it a farce.

I went with my family because my son who is now at Sutherland was in the movie. I agree that it was a waste of time and taxpayers money. I don't think if you haven't seen it you should bother to open your mouth. It really was an offensive blowhard of a movie.

The comments about this movie are a clear indication of the cultural divide in our country. Finding common ground of what it means to be an American, and what we, as a people value, will make governing this country increasingly difficult and I fear, will lead to our downfall as a world leader.

Chris Farina's movie is fantastic. As an educator, I was truly humbled by John Hunter's talent in the classroom. His warmth and undying optimism are genuinely inspiring. Mr. Hunter's world peace game is an excellent tool for teaching critical thinking skills to young kids. To construe Mr. Hunter's work and the contents of the film as "brainwashing", "communism" and "propaganda" is a complete distortion. How is it communist propaganda to teach kids how to play a sophisticated version of Risk that has the goal of world peace instead of world domination? How is it propaganda to document the life of a great teacher and show him at work in the classroom?

TJ:Very elegantly put.Thanks for your comments.You sound like you'd be a wonderful teacher.

I respect different opinions but I think just calling the film propaganda and communist without giving clear concrete examples begs the question : Are those critical themselves brainwashed ideologues?

Rational thoughtful adults can give clear concise examples.

I am tired of the irrational culture war driven by people who don't want to give rational answers and also don't want to pay taxes for their ideological programs, but complain about using taxes for some other program.

I didn't see the movie, but either give me a good rational reason with examples about why the conflict resolution was used as propaganda, or be quiet, and pay your taxes because you've got a big debt to pay off for my grandchildren.

Life Long Resident, interesting comments, but would you be more specific? I think everyone knows that what is portrayed in a film is not necessarily the full story. From your observations in the classroom, what happened that would lead you to opt your child out of participating?

I attended this inspiring movie and have a son that is presently in Mr. Hunter's class that has just started this year's version of World Peace. I feel extremely grateful that my son has the privilege of participating in this class. He is excited to go to school each day and a big reason is Mr. Hunter. He challenges his students to be their best with projects like World Peace and a recent project that required the students to create an invention that would help handicapped individuals.

It is mind boggling to me that anyone could be against teaching children to solve conflict in a thought provoking, peaceful manner. Conflict resolution is an important part of all aspects of our lives and children learning these skills are better prepared for their future lives. The movie was inpiring, funny and a great example of the difference a great teacher like Mr. Hunter can make.

Something crazy has happened in this country where for some unknown reason the concept of "peace" has come to have negative connotations with a certain segment of our population. I have another son in the U.S. Army and I hope that our leaders use all diplomatic avenues available to solve conflicts BEFORE he is sent off to fight in some foreign land. I sincerely hope that if that time comes that the leaders making those decisions have seen this beautiful movie.

Thomas Jefferson once said: "The energies of our nation shall be used to improve the condition of man, not in his destruction."

Nancy and Dwayne,

It really depends on the child. Many parents really want their children to participate even though they may not be ready for the game. So in that case blame the parents. In other cases children who would appear to be stable schoolkids are overwhelmed by the pressure and essentially suffer a breakdown.

I did not observe for an entire session of the game only for one full day. Please understand that during that one day I saw many wonderful things happen so I don't want to paint an all gloomy picture but in one day I experienced:

-One physical fight and a lot of aggressive behavior, even carrying over to times outside of game time.

-Berating of students by students behind Mr. Hunter's back.

-Several students I talked to expressed that what they had learned is that no one wanted to listen to them and their ideas were of no value since their ideas were either overridden or simply ignored.

-A couple of students, who honestly may have had self-esteem issues prior to this, were really devastated and simply went into a shell that they did not come out of, although they may have in subsequent days.

-Some students who brought in beliefs from home, mainly religious and cultural, were treated as if their values were not correct, when in fact they were just different than the majority.

-Unlike the movie, in the end, the ideas that prevailed were from those kids who came from affluent families, took an aggressive stance (although often subtle manipulator were the most successful) and some kids, especially minorities, less affluent and less articulate kids, didn't get the 'feel good' experience portrayed.

As a minority, I feel that in many cases this program reinforced the idea that manipulative skilled white boys win over less street savvy minority girls. Seeing the movie accurately points out the best of the best in this program. But a movie that told the whole truth would not have the potential for financial reward for Mr. Farina.