Playing a kids’ game for world peace

I am in awe of teacher John Hunter.  I just watched him give a talk on TED about his class room game that takes a new twist on  RISK, the famous board game of world conquest. In John Hunter’s classroom, fourth  graders play “The World Peace Game” in which four imaginary nations struggle with war, poverty, climate change, and nuclear proliferation. Students only win by working together to find solutions to issues that many adults think have no solution. The good news is that these kids don’t yet know that the problems “cannot be solved”.

John Hunter's book at Amazon.com

John Hunter’s book at Amazon.com

Hunter has recently written a book about his experiences with his World Peace Game and you can click on the image on the right to read more about it at Amazon.com. Compassion, Hunter writes in the book, “is the ultimate point of education and everything else. The game emphasizes compassion.” he says.

He says that the solutions his students devise are always complex and include negotiations, treaties, compromising, and a willingness to not to have the perfect answer. He claims that several classes have found workable solutions to global warming.

“Children don’t bring a lot of baggage to things,” he said in an article on Yahoo News. “They come with a much more openheartedness and open-mindedness to solving problems, and they do it in unusual and amazing ways. It thrills me every time I see it.”

The best news I’ve heard in awhile on the world peace front is that he and his fourth grade class have been invited to come play the game at the Pentagon later this year.

You can check out Hunter’s enjoyable TED talk here.

Mission control

Most of us have been involved at least once in writing a “mission statement”.  This concise summary of what one is trying to do is usually an exercise in restating what ones boss wants to hear and is thus regarded by cynical employees as the time wasting nonsense that it is. Yet, the real question regarding why you are doing what you are doing remains a valid one. What is the point? What do you want to accomplish? Why not just take a nap?

To that end, today the blog “Face Painting for World Peace” is going to articulate its reason for being. I’ll start with the obvious.  I wish to sell my book x0.  I wish to entertain myself by writing, which I love to do, and in the best case I wish to entertain others with that writing.  I love to do that as well. I’d like to solicit more interaction here and am trying to figure out how because I wish to grow by hearing from others with ideas outside of my usual circle.

All good mission statements cover not only what is to be done, but also how.  At least at a very high level. So, I hope to do the above by writing about the aspects of x0 that most fascinate me. These include the relationship between telepathy and empathy and the way both relate to humans treating each other with compassion and respect. I subtitled my book (and named this blog) “Face Painting for World Peace” because my main character Lola realizes that she lost many of her racial and ethnic prejudices while painting children’s faces every year at the school carnival. She wonders if similar close interaction with the children of ones enemies would foster world peace. So, this blog will look at paintings about peace, art about peace, and music about peace.

I also hope to occasionally post about Nigeria, the fascinating country where half of the book occurs. There will sometimes be posts about the oil business, with an insiders perspective on the hunt for the hydrocarbons we rely on so heavily and yet know we need to rely on less And finally, I hope to feature other books of any genre that touch on any of these topics or on the theme of world peace. I will be more aggressively seeking out other authors and welcome all requests to do a guest post.

Mission accomplished? Hardly. But after about eight months of feeling my way along on this blog, and as I am about to cross the 2000 hit mark very soon, it feels good to say “mission begun”.

Happy Independence Day Nigeria!

Nigerian Flag

This post is a week late but heartfelt none-the-less as I wish my Nigerian co-workers and friends a happy 52 years of independence.  Those of you familiar with Nigeria know that this nation has not had an easy road to walk and it still faces significant challenges.  Yet, if you know anyone from this country you also realize that the Nigerian people’s hope for the future abounds.

The U.S. has about 200,000 citizens who list their national origin as Nigerian (2000 census) but many more are here as temporary workers and students.  Houston, my home town and the home town of x0 hero Lola, has a large concentration of Nigerians thanks to our common tie with the oil business. New York and Chicago boast large populations of Nigerians as well and this past week-end both of these cities hosted Nigerian Independence Day Parades

Take a look at Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2012 Independence Day Broadcast here. It’s short, and it is a good reminder that every nation shares problems in common as well as such very similar hopes for the future.