Teach Peace Instead of Anti-Bullying

On the heels of troubling headlines about hazing at a local high school up the road from our own Oneness-Family School last week and a plethora of well-intentioned workshops and programs nationwide focused on anti-bullying, I offer my perspective on how educators can shift the operational paradigm from anti-bullying to peace.

            5 Ways Schools Can Teach Peace

1.         Cultivate students’ inner awareness: Teach mindfulness practices to optimize students’ brain development and their ability to manage and recognize a full spectrum of emotions in themselves and others. Have a look at the national training program MindUP, which we recently added to our curriculum.

Celebrating the rich diversity of our global heritage at United Nations Day

2.         Emphasize appreciation of world cultures, religions and heroes: Study and discuss the diversity and richness of our global heritage through history, languages, the arts, and the inspiring stories of heroes of our time to promote understanding and respect for diversity in all forms.

3.         Teach conflict resolution: Empower students with formalized instruction in mediating conflict and maintain a focused commitment in helping them to practice these skills with each other so that they become compassionate, confident problem solvers and peacemakers at home and in the world at large.

4.         Connect students to nature: Instill in students a deep feeling of connectedness to their bodies and to the Earth. Dedicate ample time to mind-body, fitness and recess activities plus regular science and nature studies that focus on the interdependence of all living things. Students learn that being of sound body and mind goes hand-in-hand with the responsibility to nurture a healthy planet.

5.         Create inspirational school celebrations that bring the wider world into the school:  Communities are made more cohesive when they coalesce around an aspiration or larger collective goal beyond a football team victory. Celebrate peace with United Nations Day, the protection of the environment with Earth Day and the importance of serving others with a fundraising walkathon for children without water in Africa.

Could the paradigm shift envisioned above be effective in schools nationwide and create a new generation of peacemakers? Considering our experience at Oneness-Family School the answer is YES!

What are your experiences with anti-bullying programs? Do you think some or all of the above approaches could be incorporated into your school’s practices? As a parent, does this approach sound appealing? As a student, do you think this would help? Please share this post with your teachers, school administrators, colleagues and friends. Encourage them to post their comments. Together we have the power to give peace a real chance!

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9 responses to “Teach Peace Instead of Anti-Bullying

  1. Pingback: Montessori Monday – Montessori Inspiration for Martin Luther King Day | LivingMontessoriNow.com

  2. Noushaba Nousheeen December 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

    “Peace on Earth begins at home.” Thought provoking! All the points are beautifully explained…Montessorians must apply in the classrooms….thanks

  3. Practical Parenting November 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    As a former school administrator and current psychotherapist, I have always thought that there should be a dual focus: paradigm shift and clear policies in place. I think schools need to focus on social interaction skills, conflict resolution skills, and community building. I think peer to peer programs can be very effective and inspiring. But I do think there need to be clear expectations of behavior and policies in place to deal with bullying if/when it happens. I also believe that parents should be required to attend parent group discussions that explore causes and symptoms of bullying as well as ways to reinforce community building.

  4. sarah pekkanen November 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Great, thoughtful post Andrew – and it couldn’t be more timely. This approach will serve kids well throughout life, not just with respect to the specific issue of bullying.

    • Andrew Kutt November 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      I like the dual focus perspective. To me there is always an inner process and an outer process. On the inner level we look at the causes and sources of our emotions and attitudes. On the outer level we establish frameworks and understandings for what is acceptable and what is not in our schools and in society. I believe this now longstanding outbreak of bullying is a symptom of a much deeper societal malady whose roots we need to explore. Working together with teachers, administrators, students AND parents is absolutely a key to progress.

  5. Dr. Aja Staniszewski November 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Andrew,
    As always your thoughts are beautifully expressed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. What wonderful suggestions you have for children as instruments of peace.

  6. Phyllis Kutt November 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Andrew, your clear suggestions offer an incredible alternative to the anti-bullying measures I have seen spring up in the schools where I have taught over the last 35 years. They are not quick-fix ideas (which I always find suspicious), but call for a paradigm shift — embracing a world which is much larger, more complex and probably more diverse than any of our individual and often isolated schools. Thank you!

  7. Peter Novick October 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    This is a refreshing & inspired way of looking at something in a fresh way. It reminds me of how “The Hunger Project” organization once talked about changing their name to “The Abundance (or ‘The Prosperity’) Project.” The point is, it is very powerful and effective to focus on what we DO want, rather than focusing on what we don’t want. It’s a great way to live.

  8. timseldin October 27, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Andrew, you have beautifully summarized your thoughts on how schools can teach peace to children in deeply meaningful ways.

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