https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx6hBgNNacE), which he felt would be inspiring for all of the third and fourth graders to see. It is a story about friendship and perseverance, where two people without a whole lot of luck or privilege decide to make meaning of their lives by working together and offering a true gift to their community in the form of planting trees. Watching the movie (in Chinese but with English subtitles) captivated our students and allowed us to explore topics such as the idea that we feed our soul when we engage in pursuits that benefit each other. A life of competition alone, where our only path to get ahead means pushing others down, eventually becomes stale and unfulfilling - even for the so-called “winners.” Deep down, human beings are wired for connection, and when we remember to hone and value our collaboration skills, we feel fulfilled. Money and power cannot purchase the sense of joy and satisfaction that the two friends shared. The kids understood this, perhaps better than most adults, and they marveled at the true miracle of creating something good from practically nothing - of their choosing, of their hard work, of their passion for the earth. We discussed mindset and creativity - not to give up when all hope seems lost (only 2 of their first 800 trees survived) and understanding that the right answer is not always known in advance. This is where a hopeful, creative spirit must live - and this is where education must prepare our children as they grow up to engage in careers that move beyond what computers can produce more cheaply than human cogs in the wheel. Our next generation is called upon to creatively solve bigger problems, of which there are so many - and to learn to think outside “the box” to find work and fulfilment born of both competitive AND collaborative means in order to find joy and meaning in their lives.
Julie Bassi, Ph.D.