Hedreich Nichols

War–What is it Good For

NOTE: The first two people to email me at 5SmallBites@gmail.com with the correct answers to the middle school questions will win a copy of Finding Your Blind Spots, available on Amazon and SolutionTree.com

I don’t know about you, but I don’t understand war. ‘Let’s just all point guns at each others heads so you won’t get more than I have’ seems frightfully ineffective. Oh, and actually, ‘let’s send my kids to fight your kids to solve the disputes of wealthy, power hungry regimes’ makes even more sense. If this doesn’t make sense to you, it may be hard to answer questions about a war in a far off land, especially when you’re a couple of your students say they missed school yesterday because momma couldn’t afford to put gas in the car. 

We’d love to think that our kids are too self involved to pay attention to the newscast running in the background, but they aren’t. Further, they have their own news sources in the form of reels and Tiktok posts. How do we answer their questions when we have so many of our own?

As I pondered Russia’s attack on the Ukraine and the world’s response to that attack, I came up with more questions than answers. My research led me back to WWII, the formation of NATO and the varying success and ineffectiveness of sanctions on a global level. I gathered a lot of information but nothing that made me see the logic of land power grabs.

If you, like me, tend to have difficulty seeing the logic of fighting  ̶o̶v̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶o̶y̶s̶ wars over borders, hopefully this allegory will help you to at least make peace with it. Moreover, it is a read-aloud that you can play for students of every age. Below are also reflection questions you can use for class discussion or journaling. 

Questions for littles:

How did Jenna, Natalie and Natasha feel when they heard things about the war they didn’t understand?

Do you hear things about fighting that you don’t understand? Where do you hear it, on the radio in the car? TV? Adults talking?

Who do you talk to when you feel afraid or confused?

What could countries do to solve conflicts, besides go to war?

Questions for middles:

What is this story a metaphor for?

Why are the names Natalie and Natasha used? Who might those names represent?

Why the name Stoli and who might that name represent?

Who do you think is represented by “the small group of families” who watch out for each other?

What could countries do to solve conflicts, besides go to war?

Questions for older students (in addition to the questions above):

What is this story a metaphor for?

Why do the people on the south side of the sea need to be concerned about what happens on the north side of the sea?

What are the economic ramifications for independent homeowners if the Rich Family begins an unchecked practice of taking over the homes of others?

What could countries do to solve conflicts, besides go to war?

If you would like to deepen your knowledge and provide your students with further context, here is a comprehensive resource from Albuquerque schools on all things pertinent to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.