OK so a few minutes ago you saw a documentary on sharks. Wow! But you are solely an observer, aren’t you? If you were a researcher or a diver assisting in marine biology research you might have a far different view of the shark documentary to John Q. Public. Be patient… working into the theme!
OK we have a dynamo primary school principal Kevin McArevey who we will call Kevin. Kevin is the principal of Holy Cross Primary School for Boys in Northern Belfast.
Yes, I have been in 1970’s Belfast and a week prior to my arrival was a particularly bloody one. When hitching into Belfast at the Northern Ireland border I witnessed, in Newry, an explosion in which a bomb hid in the raincoat of an IRA operative exploded prematurely leaving a grisly mess. Crowds of screaming protestors rushed by me (safely in a car) as rubber bullets whizzed by. And my driver giving me a hearty welcome to Northern Ireland and me responding to his question about what I will say if they ask me about my religion and I say I am a Jew in which case he says both Catholics and Protestants will kill you. Life is complicated in Northern Ireland. Arrive in Belfast but the only accommodation is The Royal Belfast and I get taken up to the room by a bellboy who excuses himself and does search of my knapsack, dinner down the street at a simple diner but scoffing down a burger and shake the plate glass window shatters sending glass all over me, then to post office the next day, British patrol vehicles, a body search at the post office but they fail to find my knife, gotta get the hell out of this hell.
Belfast is a stark and depressing place full of walls separating Catholics and Protestants. They politely refer to them as “interfaces”.
So the great conflict in Northern Ireland may have settled somewhat but hostility which still remains always simmering. So Kevin introduces philosophy to the young lads and as he explains it to them simply they lap it up. They discuss anger, internet bullying, violence, anxiety, time travel and for me a priceless mindfulness moment as he asks the boys to close their eyes and think about nothing. In a simplistic format that is the key to mindfulness which is you are alone with nothing except your breath. Sounds flaky…..just try it. The goal is to teach the students to rationalize and think for themselves.
Getting more meandering here, and enjoying it if you watch this documentary you certainly must think what your primary school experience was like? Kevin offers his students a caring, empathetic, respectful yet all within the boundaries of discipline where care is taken to explain to offenders instead of simply striking out and punishing. Did your school “officials” ever listen to you? Most likely if you are in the boomer cadre they administered “corporal punishment” often the strap and in my case being smashed in the rump with a cut-off goalie stick. Many a tear of pain and humiliation. Now that’s education!
Kevin and his team are not school administrators but guardians of the development of children into respectful adults. You violate the rules you may be “thrown in the jug” and in the worst case handed a suspension but you are given a detailed explanation of why and the option to discuss. Better than being bashed on the ass without any chance to defend yourself.
Kevin loves his Elvis which seems a bit out of place in Belfast but as the documentary illustrates there is hope for the next generation with guidance by Kevin and his staff.
“Young Plato” opens in New York on September 30th. It has played in major documentary festivals throughout the globe so if you have not seen it is coming your way!
You may see the trailer here https://vimeo.com/710806747
The Directors are Neasa Ní Chianáín and Declan McGrath.
RKS Film Rating 93/100.