LEARNING GUIDE TO:
SUBJECTS — Health;Age: 12+; MPAA Rating: PG for cultural and maternal nudity throughout; 79 Minutes, Documentary Color; 2010; Available from Amazon.com.
Description: Babies is an absorbing look at a year in the lives of four babies born in different cultures: the bustling city of Tokyo; rural Mongolia; the desert region of Namibia; and San Francisco. Director Thomas Balmes recorded their lives over a period of 400 days and edited his footage to reveal the interconnectedness of human experience. For 79 minutes, babies do what babies do: they get born; fed, bathed; cry; play; learn to sit; crawl;and walk; and begin to explore their worlds.
Rationale for Using the Movie: In this film differences in parenting and life styles are shown with respect and without judgment. The presentation of this information in any other medium such as the printed word or a lecture would not be as complete or as compelling.
Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Learning Guide: Students will take from this film a strong impression of the unity of mankind in the important function of child-rearing. Students will be able to exercise research and writing skills including exposition, narration, and argumentation stemming from a subject that is entertaining as well as informative.
Possible Problems: Minor. There are some scenes of baby and maternal nudity.
LEARNING GUIDE MENU
For a movie worksheet for this film, see Film Study Worksheet for a Documentary
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING BABIES IN THE CLASSROOM
Show the film without any introduction at all. Describing the content of the film will cause many students to moan, thinking the movie will be an anthropological discourse on child rearing. Let them discover for themselves the intent of the film.
After the film has been watched, engage the class in a discussion about the movie.
1. Which scenes in this film most clearly indicate to you the interconnectedness, the similarity in all human behavior? Suggested Response: Students cannot be wrong in their responses as long as they assert their points with clarity and directly cite scenes from the experiences of the four babies.
2. Ethnocentrism is the belief in the superiority of one's culture. Can you find any scenes in the film that cause you to respond with what may be an ethnocentric viewpoint? Suggested Response: Students cannot be wrong in their opinions but they must argue their points and cite specific scenes. Some students may assert that there are scenes in which a baby is unnecessarily exposed to danger, for example a scene with animals, and that these care-taking practices are not proper in American culture.
3. Which setting, family life style or maternal practice most clearly causes you to identify or empathize with the feelings generated? Suggested Response: All answers will be acceptable as long as students support their responses and cite specific scenes..
4. Thinking about parents and children in general, what are the responsibilities of the parents in a family and what are the responsibilities of the children at various stages of life such as infancy, ages 6 - 12, ages 12 - 18 and when the children are adults, and when the parents are elderly? Suggested Response: Responses will vary but stress that children, as well as parents, have responsibilities in a family. These are not limited to just doing chores and schoolwork, but also include the responsibilities and caring involved in being part of a group of people who love each other.
For additional discussion questions, click here.
Any of the discussion questions can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:
1. Ask students to do an Internet search to find one child rearing practice from a culture not represented in the film and share that practice with the rest of the class. An example of such a child rearing practice is "age villages" in some African tribes or the Kibbutz system in Israel.
2. Describe an experience within your family or culture that can be called a "child rearing practice." For example, should you have a young brother or sister that attends day-care or stays home with extended family members, you have a "child-rearing practice." Comment on this practice. Is it beneficial? Is there a way to improve it?
3. Research child birth practices across several cultures and write an expository essay on the different practices you find. Be sure to include infant and maternal mortality rates as well as use of Caesarian births and water births. Conclude with your opinion about which birthing practice is best for both mother and baby.
For additional assignments, click here.
Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.
Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.
This Learning Guide was written by Mary RedClay. It was last revised on April 21, 2013.
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