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How much digital technology do you use in your household? Do you find it helpful in educating your children? Recently I read a study entitled Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology[1], and I have to confess that I was a bit surprised by some of the results.

In a world of apps and smartphones, the television is really holding strong. And so is the concept of life beyond technology. Perhaps this is why the Journeys in Film curriculum reaches so many people so well. It merges the two concepts.

The Benefits of the Television/Film Screen

I’ll be honest now. When my kids were young, and I decided to focus on some global education, teaching my kids about India didn’t start out well. They were confused with the idea that people from India were not the same as American Indians. When they looked on a map, India seemed very far away.

How could I get them to see that children in India had a very different upbringing and culture than the upbringing to which my children were accustomed, and yet they also had a lot in common with my children? If I could teach through film, the visuals would explain it all. A perfect example of a film that would have worked is Like Stars on Earth [2]. The digital visuals would:

  1. Give my children accurate views and sounds of India
  2. Keep my children learning without their realization thanks to an enthralling story
  3. Teach my children that kids in India are similar to us in regards to family interactions and emotions and important life issues

Like Stars On Earth is a film that is part of the free Journeys in Film global education curriculum offerings[3]. It tells the story of Ishaan. Eight-year-old Ishaan’s world is filled with wonders that no one else seems to appreciate. Adults are more interested in things like homework and marks, but Ishaan just can’t seem to get anything right in class. When he gets into more trouble than his parents can handle, he is packed off to boarding school to “be disciplined.” New art teacher, Nikumbh, soon realizes that something is wrong and sets out to discover why. With time, patience and care, he ultimately helps Ishaan find himself.

The Benefits of Stepping Away From Digital Technology

As good as a film is, one doesn’t want to teach through film only. It’s never enough to stop after a viewing when one wants to get full value. The global education lessons must extend beyond the screen. This is why Journeys in Film offers curriculum that uses a film as a springboard rather than a stop.

In addition to the general entertainment value, this curriculum meets standards in math, science, language arts, social studies, media literacy and visual arts while also covering:

  • Cultural geography and history of India
  • Bollywood – music and dance traditions in Indian film
  • Creating tension between characters
  • Dyslexia, brain function and individual expression
  • Diwali and Hinduism
  • Using percentages and probability for calculating grades
  • Traditional Indian music instruments and contemporary world music

It does this through games, culinary lessons, face-to-face interviewing and other hands-on activities.

While it’s true we are fortunate to live in a hi-tech world, it’s clear that parents and educators benefit from using technology as a tool rather than let it overwhelm. This is parenting in the digital age.

[2] http://web5.soc.northwestern.edu/cmhd/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Parenting-Report_FINAL.pdf