The Global Search for Education: Filmmaker Creates Documentary about Her Teacher's Acclaimed Curriculum
This month on the Planet Classroom Network, audiences can screen Tuning the Student Mind, an impressive documentary from Director Chelsea Jackson.
Set at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, the 27-minute film follows the journey of three students enrolled in Professor Molly Beauregard's social science course. Through the subjects' personal stories, the film illustrates how the Tuning the Student Mind approach creates both good scholars and students who develop deep, self-reflective awareness. The audience discovers Beauregard's bold and unconventional approach to identity studies, pushing her students to ignite their own creativity and imagination.
Beyond the documentary, Tuning the Student Mind is a book and a 501c3 organization that supports wellness practices on college campuses all over the country.
The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Chelsea Jackson.
Chelsea, what drew you to creating this important documentary?
I met Molly Beauregard when I signed up for her sociology class as a sophomore at the College for Creative Studies. I knew right away that Molly was a special person and a unique teacher, but I didn't know then just how intertwined our lives would become.
After our first semester together, Molly chose me as one of two students to learn meditation. She was trying to get a class approved that incorporated meditation into the core curriculum, and she needed a couple of students to learn first as a sort of test run.
My first experience meditating was a deep dive I'll never forget. I remember coming out of it and immediately calling Molly to ask her how every student could get access to meditation training. It was a classic grasshopper moment for me. She had been working on it for quite some time and as I came to find out, starting a class that incorporated meditation was not an easy task.
Fast forward two years, the class was finally approved and I got to enroll in it during my last semester in senior year. I had been documenting my experience as a student learning meditation for my thesis project. Being in Molly's first class that had the meditation component was the perfect ending to a long and beautiful journey.
Truth be told, documenting this story was very organic and cumulative. I barely realized I had a story until I was well into the process. A year after graduation, I called Molly one day and told her that I couldn't stop thinking about the class, how much her loving presence had meant to me, and how her curriculum had changed me. I asked her if I could do a documentary about her class and she happily agreed.
Beauregard's unconventional and innovative approach to igniting creativity and imagination in youth is so inspiring. Can you speak about some of the success stories this work has inspired?
I have heard many success stories from students who have taken Molly's class and I believe there is evidence that her work is being embraced. First off, I'll just mention that Molly has a bulletin board in her office littered with thank you notes from students. Frequently, former students write two or three years after taking her class!
I know of several students who have shifted the direction of their work after taking her class. For example, several students have developed an interest in documenting stories about community and the environment after taking her class. Some have become art teachers and some have focused on community based art making. One student I know has taken interest in spiritual ecology as it relates to indigenous traditions. Some have made short films on mindfulness.
I think the majority of students leave Molly's class knowing they have something within them changed, and that change helps them streamline their desires into actions that are community oriented, with an emphasis on knowing and loving thyself.
Also, prior to making the film, there was basically just a counseling office on the campus of CCS, and now there is a full fledged wellness center that offers weekly mindfulness sessions. Molly was instrumental in supporting the meditation incubator at Pratt Institute. She also consulted with faculty at Albion, St. Francis, U of Arkansas, and other institutions regarding the benefits of integrating meditation into the core curriculum of classes. She is now the co-director of the U of M program in creativity and consciousness. It's slow going but it's happening!!
We are still in a pandemic and we are also facing a global youth mental health crisis. How important is Beauregard's approach to learning at this moment in time?
I think Molly's approach to learning and teaching is extremely important and always has been, but right now we are living in a time of increased anxiety, stress, and upset energy that is exacerbated by uncertainty and inconsistency. I know my meditation practice has helped me feel more balanced in this time and I can really tell when I'm giving myself the time I need vs. when I'm falling off the wagon.
Meditation is, as Henry says in the film, a really beautiful tool to have in your toolbox. It really comes in handy when you need it. And from my experience, even if you forget about or ignore that tool for a long time, it's right there to greet you when you remember how much you benefit from using it.
Who do you believe is your target audience for this film and what are the important takeaways you want for them?
The target audience of the Tuning the Student Mind film are high school and college age students. I believe one of the most important takeaways from watching the film is developing a true sense of self. As Molly says, "Who are you? What do you want to be? Why do you believe the things you believe?" Analyzing these questions helps us to learn and grow in ways we never imagined. Molly is a big advocate for developing community based relationships, spreading joy and love, giving back to your community and giving back to yourself in a consistent manner.
Tuning the Student Mind started as an idea that grew into a college course that has helped hundreds of students. It became a documentary, a book, and eventually a 501c3 organization that supports wellness practices on college campuses all over the country. If there is one thing to remember after watching this film, it's that small ideas can become big dreams realized. And if you're putting in the work it takes to keep yourself and your community both physically and mentally healthy, everyone benefits.
Thank you Chelsea!
Don't miss on Planet Classroom Tuning the Student Mind, an impressive documentary from Director Chelsea Jackson.