Lesson Plan A Day in the Life

Key Idea

Children across the globe share similarities in their daily lives despite differences in cultures, religions, and locations.

Background

The short film, Amar, follows a 14-year-old boy from Jamshedpur, a major industrialized city in Eastern India, during his daily routine. Subtitled, "All great achievements require time," the film emphasizes the role of time in Amar's life and his one-pointed commitment to realizing his goals.

Amar is the main breadwinner in his family and he is not alone. In 2011, according to UNICEF, nearly 28 million children between ages 5 and 14 were engaged in work in India. Poverty is the main reason for child labor, and Amar lives in Jharkhand, one of the poorest states in India. According to the Reserve Bank of India, in 2012, approximately 21 percent of India's population fell below the international poverty line and approximately 37 percent of Jharkhand residents lived in poverty.* Unlike many poor children in India, Amar attends a special half-day school that allows him to work to support his family as well as pursue an education. One of Amar's dreams is to become a cricket star. He applies perseverance and determination—from before sunrise to after sunset—to excel at school and his two jobs.

Connections to National Standards

Common Core English Language Arts. SL.11-12.1.c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Geo.4.9-12. Analyze relationships and interactions within and between human and physical systems to explain reciprocal influences that occur among them.

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies Standards. D2.Geo.2.9-12. Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between location of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.

Lesson

Setting the Stage

Introduce the film by telling students they will be watching a film about a 14-year-old boy, Amar, who lives in a major city of Eastern India. Show students Jamshedpur, a city in the state of Jharkhand, on a world map. Tell students that Jharkhand is one of the poorest states in India.

Explain to students that the film follows Amar through his daily routines and activities. Ask students to consider the routines of their own day. What keeps students focused on their daily tasks? Is it a commitment to personal success, to family or friends, or to a goal of learning new skills?

Ask students to write a timeline of the main activities of their day, noting the time, place, and people with whom they share these activities. What are the motivations behind these activities?

Engaging with the Story

While students watch the film, ask them to jot down the main activities of Amar's day. Who are the people involved with each activity?

Ask students to note the duration of each of the activities by observing the time-stamps included by the filmmaker. Which of Amar's activities take the most time? How much of his daily routine involves rest or play? How much time is spent with family, schoolwork, and employment?

Delving Deeper

After viewing the film, lead a discussion with such questions as:

  • Make a list of Amar's main activities evident in the film, noting where these activities take place and the time of day.
  • Filmmaker Andrew Hinton uses timestamps, stating the hour and minutes, throughout the film. What do you think he is saying about Amar's life by using this technique?
  • Make a list of your first impressions of Jamshedpur, the city where Amar and his family lives. What are some characteristics of Jamshedpur?
  • Which of Amar's qualities and attitudes are most evident in this film? How do these qualities or attitudes support or motivate Amar during his daily routine?
  • This film contains ambient sound without music or dialogue. Filmmaker Andrew Hinton explained, "I like the simplicity of the natural sounds." Why do you think he made the choice to use only natural sounds in this film? What impact does this technique have on the viewer? If the film included dialogue, how might this change the viewer's experience?
  • In an interview, Hinton explained that Amar "really made me stop and think about how I use the time in my own life." If you were to observe your life and your use of time, would you change anything? Would you use your time differently? If so, in what ways?

Reflecting and Projecting

Give students one of the following reflective writing prompts to demonstrate their understanding of the story. (Note for teachers: Just as quotes from a book or text are used to prove an analytical thought, students use the film to justify their reasoning.)

  1. The subtitle of this film, "All great achievements require time," is a slogan on a poster in Amar's house. This quote was written by Maya Angelou, a well-known African American poet and novelist born into poverty in the south. Write a paragraph about this quote and address the following questions using examples from the film to support your point of view: How might you state or interpret this quote in your own words? How does Amar's life reflect the meaning of this quote? What do you think are some characteristics, or personality traits, a person can develop to live by this statement? (C3.D2.Geo.4.9-12)
  2. The film includes many scenes of daily life in Jamshedpur. Select one scene from the film and write a paragraph describing the scene in detail. For example, the scene you select could be Amar at home getting ready for school or riding his bike down the street. How does this scene depict life in Jamshedpur? In what ways does this scene compare to a similar scene (for example, your home, work or school) in your life? Describe the similarities and differences between the scenes. (CCSS.ELA.SL.11-12.1.c)
  3. Time Magazine for Kids, in their "Around the World" series, features children's lives from a variety of countries, including Japan, Kenya, Greece, Israel, and others. Pick one of the following three examples from this "A Day in the Life" series. (Note to teachers: other countries are available.)

    Compare and contrast the day of the child that you selected to the daily life of Amar. What are some similarities and differences? What do you think makes Amar and the child you selected unique as individuals? Do you think there is value in observing how people live around the world? Why or why not? (C3.D2.Geo.2.9-12)

Resources

Tahiat Mahboob, "Interview: Filmmaker Andrew Hinton Captures Day in the Life of Indian Striver." Asia Society: Asia Blog, July 9, 2012.

Gayatri Parameswaran and Felix Gaedtke, "Millions of children hard at work in India." Al Jazeera, June 12, 2015.

"The Situation of Children in India: A Profile." UNICEF, May 2011.

K.M. Singh, M.S. Meena, R.K.P. Singh, R.K.P., Abhay Kumar, and Anjani Kumar, "Rural Poverty in Jharkhand, India: An Empirical Study based on Panel Data." Munich Personal RePEc Archive, August 23, 2012.

"India Poverty Map 2009-10." Maps of India.

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