review by Doris M. Willoughby
(Note: This is from The Best of Zoom Special Children. 8 minutes, color. 16 mm film or videocassette.)
Timmy Cummings is in the fifth grade. He takes his turn as recorder for a class discussion, writing notes in Braille. He plays active outdoor games with his sighted classmates and with his brother.
In a mobility lesson, Timmy crosses streets and proceeds for several blocks, moving smoothly and learning quickly. Some people feel sorry for him, explains Timmy, but they really shouldn't. He is getting along fine in school and in life, and looking forward to choosing a vocation.
This is one of the best films I have seen of a young student in school. A noteworthy strength is the emphasis on strong cane travel skills at this age. It would have been even better to show the cane used indoors as well as outdoors, and to use a straight cane rather than one with a crook. But Timmy's cane skill is impressive for a fifth grader, and the all-around approach is extremely positive.
The school apparently has seven blind students served by a resource teacher. One excellent scene shows Timmy and another boy talking about their travel experiences.
Unfortunately, the printed discussion guide which I saw was greatly inferior to the film itself. The guide suggests that students pair off to experience "how it feels to be blind," with one student verbally guiding, and with the other blindfolded but using no cane. This is one of the worst possible exercises, increasing fear and misunderstanding rather than decreasing it. Also, the discussion guide overemphasizes the remark, "Crossing the street is really taking a risk." When Timmy said that, it was in the context of walking briskly and successfully across the street; also, he went on to say that everyone must take risks in order to get anywhere in life. The discussion guide, however, brings out the negative aspect. It also describes the Braillewriter inaccurately.
This film is especially good to show to classroom teachers who will soon be having a blind student for the first time. Enjoy the film, and throw away the discussion guide.
WGBH-TV in Boston produced this film as part of the Zoom series. Following is a listing of how to purchase it. Rental is also possible, but for only a very few days.
FINDING MY WAY (from The Best of
*** VHS Videotape--$99.00
*** 3/4" U-Matic Videotape--$149.00
*** 16 mm. film--$185.00
Order from the address below and indicate that this is a "special order" film. Purchase Orders are accepted from schools, agencies, etc.; otherwise prepayment is required. Films Incorporated 5547 N. Ravenswood, Chicago, IL, 60640; INWATS: 1-800-323-4222.
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