The World in Claire's Classroom

An intimate portrait of a veteran teacher and her classroom
Alan Dater
Year Released
Film Length(s)
89 mins
Remote video URL


THE WORLD IN CLAIRE'S CLASSROOM documents a veteran public school teacher's extraordinary vision of teaching children how to appreciate diversity, how to respect themselves and others, and how to work together. Beginning with what the children know, Claire Olgesby moves gently with the students to discover the riches of a different culture. The film captures a genuine, unselfconscious learning experience.

Featured review

. . .Claire is the teacher we all should have had, the one we wish upon our children -- even-keeled, nurturing, humorous, determined, creative, and spectacularly committed after 45 years in the primary school trenches. What we witness is a classroom full of innovation, liveliness, and love . . . At least part of Claire's success seems to lie in her dogged efforts to make her classroom a focus of community involvement . . . We can only hope that teachers-to-be will view this video, learn from its amazing subject, and try to build a better world. Recommended for public libraries and academic collections serving teaching programs . . . ***
Video Librarian
Video Librarian


What can a classroom of first and second graders in the whitest state in the union teach us about respecting diversity and building community? THE WORLD IN CLAIRE'S CLASSROOM documents a veteran public school teacher and her class over the course of a year, with a focus on the children's sustained, in-depth study of another culture. Within this deep and textured exploration, she continually focuses the children's attention back on themselves in relationship to each other, their local community, and the world.

The film gives the viewer an intimate portrait of this teacher, her creative, community-oriented classroom and academically rich curriculum, which integrates math, literacy, the arts, cultural competency and conflict resolution. It is joyful, provoking and moving.


A most impressive, and moving, demonstration of how a white teacher in a white community can give her children a truly multi-cultural education.
Courtney B. Cazden
Harvard Graduate School of Education
For teacher educators, this video is worth a hundred texts, and that's much more than a thousand words.
Charlie Rathbone
College of Education and Social Services, University of Vermont
The demonstrated teaching style serves as both an inspiration and model for other educators and aspiring teachers.
. . . this is not your grandmother's hardwood floors and evenly spaced rows of desks, but an open exploratory room and curriculum which tackles both literacy and diversity, cultural competency, and conflict resolution.
Charles Greenberg
MC Journal: the journal of Academic Media Librarianship
THE WORLD IN CLAIRE'S CLASSROOM presents a living document, a picture of how respect for all children regardless of religion, economic status, or race leads to a deeper respect for other cultures, too. To quote one of her second graders when asked why they study other cultures, " If we only know about America, we would just sit here and think, 'Oh. So this is how people live. There's no other way.' It's sort of like being locked up in a small room and not being able to see what's going on outside.
Fern Tavalin
director, The WEB Project

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