Tag Archives: peace

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!

The Scent of Jasmine in Egypt

After thirty years of repression under an autocratic regime largely sustained by economic and military support from the United States, the 80 million people of Egypt are calling for the ouster of their president and for democracy.

It is riveting to watch these historic events play out in real time via television and the Internet. Yet it’s not Facebook or Twitter that engender this enthralling movement; it is the irrepressible human spirit of the Egyptian people.

Not unlike the shopkeepers, craftsmen and farmers who marched out to Concord, Massachusetts, in 1776, to confront the loathsome Redcoats – and by extension the hated British Empire — it is the common folk of Egypt that are standing up and saying “no” to the suppression of their rights.  They are saying, “yes” to shaping their own destiny, even if they do not know what that means or what that might look like.

The Egyptian people seek to fashion their own legacy and a new civilization based upon their own ideals and visions of the society they wish to create.  They want to seize their own greatness. They are motivated from within and not because they seek to match the greatness of the past or because they want to be exactly like the democracies of the United States or the West.

I cannot help but think of Daniel Pink’s book Drive, in which he describes the three things that motivate all human activity: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

  1. Autonomy:  the desire to be in charge of one’s own destiny.
    The Egyptian people have felt powerless for so long – and their newfound freedom of expression is giving them a glimpse of their own power.
  2. Mastery – to be good at something.
    Forty percent of Egyptians live on US$2.00 per day or less and the economy of the country has been in a shambles for some time. Egyptians want what every person wants – the dignity of a job to provide for their families and give their children a future.
  3. A Sense of Purpose:
    Right now, the unifying theme for the Egyptian people is the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.  The shaping of a new government and a more prosperous future, however messy those might be, will be what drives the Egyptian people in the long term.

We should not forget the young Tunisian man who lit himself on fire as an act of protest against the repression of his own country’s government.  This tragic act spurred his fellow citizens to rise up and seize their own destiny – dubbed by the media, the “Jasmine Revolution.”  And whether the events in Tunisia inspired the Egyptians to action – or shamed them as some Egyptian commentators have said, there is now a dynamic at play in the Middle East that will be hard to put “back into the bottle.”

Finally, I think of the efforts of organizations such as the Peace Alliance that  hopes to establish a Peace Institute that could provide resources, expertise and  training to help people engage in peaceful dialogue and understand better the political processes.  Such an organization could be of great value in circumstances such as those unfolding in Egypt.

Meanwhile, at the Oneness-Family School, teaching global literacy means giving our students the historical knowledge and geographical perspectives, they need to understand the interconnected nature of the world of the 21st century – as well as the social-emotional aptitudes and skills they must have in order to be informed and engaged citizens.

Hope always dawns anew when the human spirit rises up to claim its own dignity and heritage.  Perhaps this is why we cannot turn our eyes and ears away from the images of the people on the streets of Cairo.

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