Have you ever heard of or seen the movie Paperclips? If you haven't, then you need to get on Netflix or to a video store or whatever method it is that you use these days and get yourself this DVD. Paperclips is a documentary set in a small town - Whitwell, TN where a middle school teacher wanted to teach about tolerance and prejudice. She wanted to use an example so she began with the Holocaust - she educated herself and then her students. Then a child asked what six million looked like - they couldn't envision that amount of a group of people. Thus began the Paperclip Project.
For me, when I watched this for the first time about 5 or 6 years ago, I watched it alone after mentally preparing myself. Tolerance is something I understand. When I was just 15 years old I went on a trip to Poland, visiting many of the concentration camps. On Holocaust Rememberance Day myself, along with 7,000 other Jewish teenagers from all over the world marched from Auschwitz to Birkenau. What was once the 'march of death' had become our 'March of the Living' - giving the name of the trip its title.
That experience changed my life. I came back and looked at things differently. I didn't want to deal with petty things in high school. Still to this day I try my best not to use the word 'hate' and likewise I do not allow my students to use the word 'hate.' I know first-graders are young but what I say to them is "we don't need to say 'hate' that word can hurt people's feelings." When I taught 3rd last year I told them something to the effect of, "hate is not a kind word, there are other ways to say you don't like something." Other (older) ages I have said that "sometimes people get hurt because of the word hate."
The reason for saying this is because Paperclips - the movie and the result of the movie (I don't want to give it away) has always stayed with me. I am inspired by that teacher. As I was looking around this afternoon I came across this project:
This is a non-profit organization in Chattanooga, TN that began as a result of the Paperclips Project. They have SUMMER INSTITUTES! I clicked the link immediately. Then I saw the word FREE - yes, it's for teachers, and the $400 fee is waived. This is geared more towards 5th graders and older, but I believe tolerance is something children are never too young to learn. The first day is in Chattanooga where you are taught the curriculum on teaching tolerance (and you are provided the detailed lesson plans). The second day you go to Whitwell. You also receive a One Clip Kit. I was certain that this would be full for this summer, but there was room for the July one and I am thrilled to be going! What an amazing resource and experience!
If anyone else is close by and wants to come, you should look into it:
Have you seen the film? What were your thoughts? If you watch it soon, I'd love to hear!