Miramax, 2004. [G]
As a part of their study of the Holocaust, the children of the Whitwell, TN Middle School try to collect 6 million paper clips representing the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis.
Beautiful. Several themes emerge in this movie that are worthy of note. And though the pace and tone of the movie is slow, a bit “small-town,” the 83 minutes are worth it.
HUMILITY OF TEACHERS. Throughout the film, you hear these teachers mention how they were challenged and transformed in their biases, not just along racial or ethnic lines, but along generational lines as well. They mentioned how they needed to look at their students in new ways, and to allow them to teach the teachers.
PEDAGOGICAL VALUES OF EXPERIENCE AND OWNERSHIP. The level of ownership on the students part for this project is to be commended. It was a student’s question that spurred them on, and student involvement that solidified the learning.
DON’T PROTECT. EDUCATE. It was briefly mentioned, but highlighted, that part of the educational experience is not to protect students from the realities of the real world. We are to expose them to the brutal truths, and empower them to live through the “hell on earth” with redemptive purpose, hope, courage, strength, and wisdom.
THE INSPIRATIONAL POWER OF A STORY. ‘Nuff said. And the producers of this film did a good job crafting the story.
THE LESSONS OF HUMANITY. I pray that the lessons of the Holocaust never grow wearisome, tired, or familiar… ever. These are lessons that we need to continually teach and talk about with every generation that emerges. And those of us who have heard the stories, been to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., or Yad VaShem in Israel, may we never become calloused-hearted, and may those lessons break us, mold us, shape us, again, and again, and again.