TOURAN KHANOM // An Iranian Film Coming to Virtual Cinema November 20, 2020 - December 3, 2020
Venera Films & Diaspora Arts Connection
Directed by Rakhshan Banietemd & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
Touran Mirhadi -- the preeminent architect of the childhood institution in Iran -- strives to follow through with her vision of "Peace needs to be cultivated at childhood" in the last four years of her life.
Touran Mirhadi was born to a German mother and an Iranian father in Tehran. When, in 1945, and with the start of Iran’s illiteracy campaign, pioneering educators were inviting a younger generation to help with the effort, Touran Mirhadi was at the forefront. She picked up the ABCs of child education and picked out how the educational system came about. She went to France in 1946 and studied Educational Psychology at Sorbonne and Early Childhood Education at College Sevigne. The fruit of her studies was a new way of looking at child education.
Upon returning to Iran, she founded Farhad School (1955-1980), an independent kindergarten and, later, middle school named after her late brother. Farhad was a progressive institution that nurtured many outstanding students. At a time when it was almost impossible to go against the main current of the educational system, Mirhadi broke with schooling based on competition and encouraged teachers to see growth as the ability of each student to develop according to her or his talents and needs. At Farhad, the library played a central role and the relationship between teacher and student formed around books that fostered scientific precision and thinking.
In 1962, along with some of her colleagues, she founded the Children’s Book Council (CBC) with the aim of supporting the production and publication of quality books for children and young adults. CBC is an independent, non-profit, research-based cultural institution whose members are mostly women and volunteers. The Council has 1000 members today and covers its expenses through membership subscriptions, public support, commissions, and proceeds from the sales of its publications.
Chief among these publications is the Encyclopedia for Young People, a monumental reference book for children and young adults. It is the first pictorial encyclopedia for the 10-16 age range group. Work on the Encyclopedia started in 1980 and has continued with the contributions of over 250 scholars, working voluntarily. The Encyclopedia has now XVII volumes.
“Peace is to be learned-lived at childhood,” maintained Touran Mirhadi and she lived this wisdom in her 89 years. She has many books and articles to her name. In addition to CBC, she has been directly involved with the establishment of 20 institutions and has supported a dozen others for children. No wonder, then, she is known as the godmother of progressive education in Iran.