FOUR FEET UP
Produced by Nance Ackerman; 2008; 46 min 19s;
"In this personal documentary, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Nance Ackerman invites us into the lives of a determined family for a profound experience of child poverty in one of the richest countries in the world. 20 years after the House of Commons promised to eliminate poverty among Canadian children, 8-year-old Isaiah is trying hard to grow up healthy, smart and well adjusted despite the odds stacked against him. Isaiah knows he's been categorized as "less fortunate," and his short life has seen more than his share of social workers, food banks and police interventions. His parents struggle to overcome a legacy of stereotypes, abuse and dysfunction. More than anything, they want Isaiah and his siblings to have access to opportunities they never had. Ackerman spent 2 years with Isaiah and his family. As her portrait of the family unfolds with the help of Isaiah's creative input, curiosity and zest for life, so do Ackerman's own feelings about the responsibilities of Canadians to raise all children as our best investment in the nation's future"
This documentary was presented this past semester to a Challenge and Change class under the topic of poverty. During this past semester, my students really connected with the personal lens this documentary provides. It's a basic, up close and personal documentary without the dramatic cinematography. It focuses on the simple life and complicated causes/situations that lead to poverty.
This documentary can be used to address the following curriculum expectations:
• A1. Exploring: explore topics related to the analysis of social change, and formulate questions to guide their research;
• B2. Causes and Effects of Social Change: demonstrate an understanding of the causes and effects of social change
Students were placed in small groups with white boards and asked what conditions they believed increased, alleviated and decreased poverty. Each group then shared their group's discussions with the class. Students then watched the 46 minute documentary. After the video, students were asked to return to their white boards/charts and reconsider or reevaluate the question with the new understanding they have gained post-viewing. Similar to a KWL chart, this helps also address stereotypes and misconceptions. Students then were asked to reflect on what they had learned during the lesson in a ½-1 page report.
I hope your classes find it as worthwhile and powerful as my students did in understanding poverty and decimating some of the stigma and stereotypes surrounding this issue.