Privilege Walk Lesson Plan

Privilege Walk Lesson Plan

Introduction:

Many educators and activists use privilege walks as an experiential activity to highlight how people benefit or are marginalized by systems in our society. There are many iterations of such walks with several focusing on a single issue, such as race, gender, or sexuality. This particular walk is designed with questions spanning many different areas of marginalization, because the goal of this walk is to understand intersectionality. People of one shared demographic might move together for one question but end up separating due to other questions as some move forward and others move back. This iteration of the privilege walk is especially recommended for a high school classroom in which the students have had time to bond with each other, but have never taken the time in a slightly more formal setting, i.e., led by a facilitator, to explore this theme. It is a good tool for classes learning about privilege or social justice and could also be used to discuss intersectionality in classes that have the danger of singling out a single aspect of social injustice. It is important that the students or group members are already acquainted and are not doing this activity as strangers, since an immense amount of trust in the people and the environment are needed to help people feel comfortable with acknowledging that certain statements apply to them.

Many people with certain privileges never notice them, because they are so woven into the mainstream that those who have them cannot see them. For youth, understanding and acknowledging privileges is key to understanding why and how they react and perceive their surroundings. The capacity for youth to objectively reflect on their interactions with the world will be invaluable. The focus on intersectionality in this practice will allow practitioners and students alike to understand that having one privilege does not make up for another marginalization and that every privilege or marginalization exists on a different but intersecting plane from another. This focus will help to avoid having positive developments being derailed by debates over who is more oppressed. It also helps youth understand ideas of intersectionality and be aware of marginalized groups within the marginalized group. Privilege walks have previously been criticized for being most beneficial to straight, white, able-bodied men, since it is supposed that they learn the most and that more marginalized students are made to feel vulnerable. The particular walk posted on this page works to avoid falling into these issues and has given detailed reasoning for recommended debrief questions, since the nature of the debrief discussion can either exacerbate or alleviate some of these issues. Even though it is not a perfect exercise, the privilege walk is a less confrontational way to discuss privilege and promote reflection. It helps people to open up, literally, in steps instead of difficult to articulate words and relate to each other in a different way.

Goal:

To discuss the complicated intersections of privileges and marginalizations in a less confrontational and more reflective way.

Time:

15~20 minutes for the Privilege Walk

45~60 minutes for the debrief

Materials:

  • A wide open space, e.g., a classroom with all chairs and tables pushed back, an auditorium, or a gymnasium
  • Chairs to form a circle for the debrief
  • Painter’s tape to make an initial line for participants
  • Optional: tape or other materials to draw lines to indicate where to step back or forth

Procedures:

  • Have participants line up in a straight line across the middle of the room with plenty of space to move forward and backward as the exercise proceeds.
  • Have participants hold hands or place one hand on the shoulder of the person to their left or right depending on space constraints. Important: Make sure to ask participants if they are comfortable touching and being touched by others. If some are not, do not make them and do not make a big deal out of it.
  • You may give an explanation about the activity, how it is intended to educate about privilege, and what exactly is privilege, or you can send students into the activity with no such background.
  • Read the following to participants:
  • I will read statements aloud. Please move if a statement applies to you. If you do not feel comfortable acknowledging a statement that applies to you, simply do not move when it is read. No one else will know whether it applies to you.
  • Begin reading statements aloud in a clear voice, pausing slightly after each one. The pause can be as long or as short as desired as appropriate.
  • When you have finished the statements, ask participants to take note of where they are in the room in relation to others.
  • Have everyone gather into a circle for debriefing and discussion.

Privilege Walk Statements:

  1. If you are right-handed, take one step forward.
  2. If English is your first language, take one step forward.
  3. If one or both of your parents have a college degree, take one step forward.
  4. If you can find Band-Aids at mainstream stores designed to blend in with or match your skin tone, take one step forward.
  5. If you rely, or have relied, primarily on public transportation, take one step back.
  6. If you have attended previous schools with people you felt were like yourself, take one step forward
  7. If you constantly feel unsafe walking alone at night, take one step back.
  8. If your household employs help as servants, gardeners, etc., take one step forward.
  9. If you are able to move through the world without fear of sexual assault, take one step forward.
  10. If you studied the culture of your ancestors in elementary school, take one step forward.
  11. If you often feel that your parents are too busy to spend time with you, take one step back.
  12. If you were ever made fun of or bullied for something you could not change or was beyond your control, take one step back.
  13. If your family has ever left your homeland or entered another country not of your own free will, take one step back.
  14. If you would never think twice about calling the police when trouble occurs, take one step forward.
  15. If your family owns a computer, take one step forward.
  16. If you have ever been able to play a significant role in a project or activity because of a talent you gained previously, take one step forward.
  17. If you can show affection for your romantic partner in public without fear of ridicule or violence, take one step forward.
  18. If you ever had to skip a meal or were hungry because there was not enough money to buy food, take one step back.
  19. If you feel respected for your academic performance, take one step forward.
  20. If you have a physically visible disability, take one step back.
  21. If you have an invisible illness or disability, take one step back.
  22. If you were ever discouraged from an activity because of race, class, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  23. If you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behavior to fit in more, take one step back.
  24. If you have ever been profiled by someone else using stereotypes, take one step back.
  25. If you feel good about how your identities are portrayed by the media, take one step forward.
  26. If you were ever accepted for something you applied to because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward.
  27. If your family has health insurance take one step forward.
  28. If you have ever been spoken over because you could not articulate your thoughts fast enough, take one step back.
  29. If someone has ever spoken for you when you did not want them to do so, take one step back.
  30. If there was ever substance abuse in your household, take one step back.
  31. If you come from a single-parent household, take one step back.
  32. If you live in an area with crime and drug activity, take one step back.
  33. If someone in your household suffered or suffers from mental illness, take one step back.
  34. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, take one step back.
  35. If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke related to your race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.
  36. If you are never asked to speak on behalf of a group of people who share an identity with you, take one step forward.
  37. If you can make mistakes and not have people attribute your behavior to flaws in your racial or gender group, take one step forward.
  38. If you have always assumed you’ll go to college, take one step forward.
  39. If you have more than fifty books in your household, take one step forward.
  40. If your parents have told you that you can be anything you want to be, take one step forward.

Debrief Questions:

During and after the Privilege Walk, participants might experience an array of intense feelings no matter their position in the front or the back. While the point of the Privilege Walk is indeed to promote understanding and acknowledgment of privileges and marginalization, it would be detrimental to end the activity with potentially traumatic or destructive emotions. The point of the debrief session is twofold. First, through the reflection provoking questions, help participants realize what exactly they were feeling and muster the courage to articulate it to each participant’s acceptable level. This process will relieve possible negative emotions, preventing possible damage. Second, as negative emotions are relieved, the debrief will help participants realize that either privileges or marginalizations are integral to the person’s being. Instead of casting off either privilege or marginalization, participants can learn how to reconcile with themselves, and through the utilization of newfound knowledge of the self, have a better relationship with themselves and others around them.

  1. What did you feel like being in the front of the group? In the back? In the middle?

At the end of the exercise, students were asked to observe where they were in the room. This is a common question to use to lead into the discussion and allows people to reflect on what happened before starting to work with those idea in possibly more abstract ways. It keeps the activity very experience-near and in the moment.

  1. What were some factors that you have never thought of before?

This asks students to reflect in a broader sense about the experiences they might not think about in the way they were presented in this activity. It opens up a space to begin to discuss their perceptions of aspects of themselves and others that they might have never discussed before.

  1. If you broke contact with the person beside you, how did you feel in that moment?

This question focuses on the concrete experience of separation that can happen during the activity. For some students, a physical aspect like this can be quite powerful. There are many iterations of the privilege walk that do not involve physical contact, but this extra piece can add another layer of experience and be an opening for very rich student responses.

  1. What question made you think most? If you could add a question, what would it be?

The first part of this question asks students to reflect more on the activity and the thoughts behind it. The second part of this question is very important for creating knowledge. Students might suggest a question about which instructors had not thought. Asking students how they would change the activity and then working to incorporate those changes is an important part of collaborative learning.

  1. What do you wish people knew about one of the identities, situations, or disadvantages that caused you to take a step back?

This question invites people who would like to share about the ways they experience marginalization. It is a good question to ensure that this part of the conversation is had. That being said, it is also important to not expect or push certain students to speak, since that would be further marginalizing them and could cause them to feel unsafe. It is not a marginalized person’s job to educate others on their marginality. If they would like to do so, listen. If they would not like to do so, respect their wishes.

  1. How can your understanding of your privileges or marginalizations improve your existing relationships with yourself and others?

This question is based on the idea that people can always use knowledge and awareness of the self to improve how one lives with oneself and those existing within one’s life. It also invites students to think about ways that this understanding can create positive change. This is not only for the most privileged students but also for marginalized students to understand those in their group who may experience other marginalizations. This can bring the discussion form the first question, which asks about how they are standing apart to this last question, which can ask how can they work to stand together.

This activity was developed by Rebecca Layne and Ryan Chiu for Dr. Arthur Romano’s Conflict Resolution Pedagogy class at George Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Some walk activity questions are commonly seen on other privilege walks while others were written by these students for this specific walk. Procedures were written from experiences participating in other walks. Debrief questions, excepting question one, were written by these students with the goal of this walk in mind. Question one is fairly universal for this activity.

An Example of the Critiques that Influenced Us

Another Privilege Walk Example from Buzzfeed

Delicious, Nutritious Peace: Building Peace through Food

Image

I don’t know about you, but I love food. Most people relish the opportunity to satiate hunger, to dine with friends, to share a holiday meal with family. A resource I believe can be incredibly effective in building peace is commonplace. In the United States of America, most of us are fortunate to have this resource waiting in our cabinet at home or in the cafeteria at school. Food, in abundance for the majority of this nation’s citizens, can be a driving force in building peace within communities.

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience” – James Beard

Food can be very informative about a region and a culture. In my online research into building peace through discussing food, I happened upon a lesson plan titled “What Do People Around the World Eat?” created by Learning to Give. This 45 minute lesson plan is designed for high school students and can be easily employed in history, nutrition, or economics classes. If I was facilitating this lesson in a history or nutrition class, I would add several components.

This lesson plan first involves an activity in which students stand by a poster with a continent’s name written on it, guessing which one has the healthiest food and eating habits. Next, a slide show “What the World Eats” created by Time will be presented. Pairs will discuss why people from around the world eat such diverse food in different quantities. A volunteer will take notes on the poster about students’ observations. Discussion will then shift to the differences in observations across continents.

If this was my own lesson plan, I’d add my component after the section described above. I would add discussion about the cultures of the students. Split into 5 small groups, students would discuss traditional foods and eating norms in their culture. They can also speak more about their family and their eating style. Do they eat out all the time? Do they share family meals often? Experiences with foods from other cultures can also be brought up. As they discussed, each group would prepare a simple dish from one continent being presented. Students will grow in community with each other and understanding of the culture, as well as get several snacks to enjoy while they enter into the next round of discussion. This would add approximately 45 minutes. The dishes will be chosen based on ease, short cooking time, and appeal. Food preparation is not be feasible in all situations, but a discussion of the students’ cultural experiences with food should be included.

According to the lesson plan, after this portion, discussion will shift again to comparison of attributes of the foods (cost per week per person, nutritional value, quantity per person, variety of food groups). The class will split into groups to discuss these attributes, soon presenting a class with a summary of their observation. If computers are available, a summary with research should be expected.

This lesson plan ends with two excellent questions: “How do these differences show that there is an injustice in food availability?  Whose responsibility is it to take action to address the injustice of food availability?” After a brief discussion of this, I’d expect students to write an essay or reflection about their thoughts on the matter.

This lesson plan reflects many of the pillars of peace education, particularly community building, engaging multiple intelligences, and skill building. Students build community with each other, gain understanding of one another’s cultures, and are introduced to the outside world’s experiences with food. They have the opportunity to discuss, to view a presentation, to walk around the class, to create food—engaging verbal, visual, and kinesthetic learners. Finally, this helps develop skills in analysis, comparison, and cooking.

This lesson plan would be great for high school teachers, particularly those that lead history or nutrition classes. This can be adapted for economics classes, for younger students, or for college-level courses. Informally, I could see this project fitting very well in Saturday community projects, with Girl and Boy Scout troops, in youth groups at churches, and in community enrichment classes.

For more information about building peace through making food, The PeaceMeal Project is a good place to start.

Seeds of Change: The Natural Classroom

Many of us have heard the metaphor, ‘our education is planting the seeds for the future,’ or something similar or maybe not! Regardless, I believe this needs to be taken more literally. The metaphorical seeds should include literal seeds. Humans and our environment are partners in a mutually eternal relationship; however, the harmony has been disrupted because of industrial neglect amongst other causes. We must teach the balance and sustainable treatment of the planet and mustn’t forget that environmental education is also under the umbrella of peace education. If teachers can keep this in mind, student’s learning will breach the walls of the confining classroom. The world will become their natural classroom, always available for exploration and discovery.

This focus on the natural world was also a critical philosophy of Maria Montessori.

“It is also necessary for his physical development to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly education forces of living nature.”

– Maria Montessori

We should teach to this kind of connection. Outdoor education is often survival or work based, a get your hands dirty kind of approach. The time spent doing these activities outdoors will help rebuild this relationship.

Outdoor education requires children to use all 5 senses and think about the world around them. They will learn to explore, discover, and reflect. Unstructured outdoor education will allow for the student to become independent. Outdoor education gets students physically active and our shown to be more nutrition savvy. Recess is a perfect example and oftentimes very profound interpersonal lessons are taught on the playground, however recess is often taken away earlier on in a child’s education. For the sake of environmental education, the playground should remain natural as opposed to manufactured products.

After a bought of outdoor kinetics, a teacher can switch into classroom mode again without going back into the classroom! Math and English, two subjects that we might think are impossible to be taught outside can be taught outdoors as well. Math can be taught be adding and subtracting pine-cones and sticks and drawing out the equations with chalk for example. English can be taught by prompting students to reflect on their outdoor experience. Also, reading outside and holding lessons outdoors as much as possible is an great way to reap the benefits of the natural world – this was always a exciting option for me as a young learner.

What if it’s raining? In that case the inside of the classroom should have a similar feel.

More plants! Raymond De Young, an environmental psychologist at the University of Michigan, believes in the power of plants to bring peace. “I have one colleague who, whenever she’s going into a very important meeting, places a small potted plant on the center of the table. She says it has a really calming effect on everyone around.” Plants also help with preventing illness. Teachers have the option to incorporate live fauna in the classroom. Maybe have the students water the plants? Start a garden? The symbolism behind the growth of a plant can be related to the growth and progress of the child. It’s no different then having a pet in the classroom.

Open the windows! Let it shine. Not only is sunlight in the classroom healthy but research has shown that those who sit next to windows are happier, more enthusiastic, more calm, and more productive. Those plants you brought in are going to need some UV rays!

Don’t stop there! We love to fill our lives with images of the natural world, from cave paintings, to our computer desktop, to our fairy tales and folk stories. Placing more images of the planets natural wonders inside the classroom will keep students curious and connected with the diversity of the outside world they are in a serious relationship with.

Get moving! Make movement and music a priority within the classroom as well. Music can be easily incorporated into learning and research proves music’s contribution to positive child development. This helps students express themselves emotionally and stimulates creativity and imagination. Music can be included to enhance other subject areas as well. Choreograph a dance? Bring in natural instruments? “This land is your land” is a song with a lot of history and a very peaceful message. These sorts of things you never forget, as a student and a teacher.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr5fkRmP_Q0

Here are some other ways to breach the walls of the classroom and pedagogically implement natural elements.

http://www.whitehutchinson.com/news/learnenews/2003_05/article101.shtml

http://education.audubon.org/tips-bringing-nature-classroom

What can teachers do today?

Pick some of the previous suggestions and take action! Teachers have control over the structure of their classroom and what is included. Students depend on the teacher to create for them a rich and diverse learning environment. Music, movement, and nature cannot be overlooked. This is proving to be dangerous and unproductive. I remember an exercise from the ‘Peace Education Exploratorium’ I attended a couple weeks back where the instructor pushed us outside into a cold field and had us walk around thinking about the environment. She was simultaneously playing relaxing music and I can honestly say a connection was established, if only for a brief moment. The naturalist inside of me was satisfied.

What an educator can do for tomorrow?

Environmental Psychology is an emerging field, which seeks to study built and natural environments and how they influence human behavior, and is great for the creative educator’s inquiring mind. We need to design future schools and classrooms in a way that embraces the exuberance and freedom of being a child, while rebuilding the bridge between the environment and us. The classrooms of the future allow for the extension of learning outside the walls of the classroom and for the inclusion of the outside world within the classroom.

Who will benefit?

Children and teachers will benefit from embracing a more natural learning environment. Children learn more from the actions of adults rather than their words. A teacher cannot effectively incorporate any of the previous recommendations without fully believing in and understanding music and movement as healthy expressions of emotions and the outdoors as an infinite classroom. A teacher must be an authentic role model and teachers will conversely share in the learning if they are willing. But, our home, our planet, the extension of our bodies, and the canvas for our lives, will appreciate it the most.

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

– Mahatma Ghandi

They are one in the same.

One World Youth Project

I stumbled on the One World Youth Project website while looking online for information for another assignment. However, I was very happy I did after reading more about the project.

One World Youth Project (OWYP) was founded in 2004 by then 18 year-old Jess Rimington as a link between her high school in Massachusetts, USA and a school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The project seeks to effectively respond to global change. Due to global change there is unprecedented migration and the world is experiencing a digital revolution. However, schools around the globe are not preparing youth for the interconnected world. OWYP feels that those prepared to operate within this reality will see this interconnection as an opportunity and those not prepared will see this changing landscape as a threat.

To prevent this threat, One World Youth Project links schools around the world to build mutual respect and understanding among students and provide them with global life skills needed for success in the interconnected 21st century. This is done by the organization establishing a link between education systems. With each partner university, OWYP establishes a service-learning program-a One World Hub-on their campus for the benefit of their students as well as the surrounding secondary school system. OWYP provides a series of trainings that prepare university students as facilitators of cultural exchange between local secondary school classrooms and other OWYP classrooms abroad. After this training, the university students lead a Global Citizenship curriculum in local secondary schools, preparing the younger generation for the interconnected 21st century.

The fact that the OWYP is tailored for college students to help 6th through 12th grade secondary school students is perfect. These secondary students will feel more at ease with the college students, and the college students also get a chance to learn. For a year in a formal education setting the secondary school students learn through deep reflection on intercultural communication, as well as local and global leadership.

Ways to use this resource:
The teacher is ultimately allowing a college student to come in once a week and facilitate this communication for a year (2 semesters). The secondary school students connect with other classrooms abroad through video, voice, letters and the Internet. While students move through the facilitated program once a week in their classroom, their partner peers in the abroad classroom do the same. This connection allows for deep reflection on and constant collaborative investigation of intercultural communication.

The first semesters curriculum focuses on giving students the tools to understand their own cultures and begin the process of exchanging and communicating across cultures. From there the lessons move to issues of global connections and development by introducing the ways in which goods and systems flow around the world and to the concept of the UN and the Millennium Development Goals. Using these tools, students will identify issues in their communities and create plans to address these issues.

As the students move into the second semester with OWYP, students will continue to learn about ways to communicate with people in other cultures by analyzing different forms and systems of communication. Then they will be prepared to participate in collaborative dialogues to create change by identifying key community players and exploring ways to engage them in conversations around community issues. As students move through the program, these plans will turn into actionable service learning projects.

I think it would also be beneficial if the college students that come to facilitate also have one on one time with the students too. They could interact in dialogue or the college student could facilitate experiential learning activities so that the secondary students are also learning from the older college student too.

If a teacher wanted to set up a One World hub at a University near their school, or to find out if one is already established, they could email info@oneworldyouthproject.org.

The end goal of OWYP is to create a just world built through the actions of empowered, discerning and empathetic generations of global citizens. OWYP hopes to accomplish this by facilitating intercultural communication between students of different backgrounds. This type of peace project supports one of the seven pillars of peace education, community building. This pillar focuses on finding things that unite and bind us together as a group, while at the same time respecting and celebrating our differences. Allowing students from different backgrounds to communicate across borders will create a new understanding of what makes them both different and similar. Students that engage in the program will become well-rounded citizens that are able to operate in a diverse world.

Is Spiderman The Key to Educational Success?

http://www.comicstriparchive.com/category/spider-man

Some of you may be surprised to find out that the answer is partially YES! In recent years, reports have been made claiming that adults exiting school and entering the work force are not meeting the demands of their employers. Employers are complaining that young workers do not have the writing capabilities and the critical thinking and analysis capabilities that are crucial to be successful in the world today. Our economy is extremely vulnerable and employers need workers who are able to adapt to constant fluctuations and still turn some type of profit. Why are people leaving school today and not being able to fill the needs of their employers? What must our educators do in order to change this trend of students leaving school who are ill equipped to be successful in today’s economy? Well, its simple…put the fun back into learning!

The International Reading Association (IRA) has proposed an alternative form of writing other than the standard book reports that all grade school students are required to write at some point. The IRA suggests teachers to have students to create their own comic strips for books instead of writing a standard book report. Asking students to create their own story line for a comic strip regarding the books they read for school will enhance their critical thinking and analysis skills far more than a book report could. Through creating their own comic strips, students will be forced to access the creative thinking parts of their mind in order to symbolically depict the characters in a way that is congruent with their portrayal in the original text.

The education system that is used in the United States and majority of the world today has been the same for centuries now; a very structured student-teacher classroom where the teacher relays information to their students that the students need to report back to the teachers verbatim in order to achieve “success.” In his book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Ken Robinson refers to this as the banking method of education. However, this removes any opportunity for students to develop critical thinking and analysis tools from a young age. As you grow older, these tools are harder to develop. In order to start promoting this type of creative thinking that is necessary at an early age, we must start using alternative ways of learning.

This type of “alternative book report” can be a key alternative form of learning in the coming years. It could be used successfully at any grade school level; first grade all the way through twelfth grade. The amazing thing about asking students to write a comic strip instead of a book report is that the teacher is still providing students with a structured assignment. The comic strip would have to depict the major scenes of the novel and the assignment would still have a due date such as any other traditional school assignment. The difference is you are providing the students with creative ownership over the final outcome. How they choose to depict each of the major scenes is entirely up to them. Thinking of interesting and innovative ways to portray the characters will force them to think in ways they never have thus sparking their critical thinking and analysis tools. Also, providing student with this type of alternative assignment can allow them to be excited about their work again. I know that I am more likely to put effort into an assignment that I feel passionate about and that I feel I have ownership over. This type of assignment provides exactly that for our students. Why shouldn’t we provide them with an opportunity to have fun with their homework?

How about a day for peace?

Actor turned filmmaker Jeremy Gilley founded Peace One Day after realizing that there was no starting point for peace, no day of global unity, no day for intercultural cooperation, and no day for when humanity came together. Gilley felt that if we united as one then that might be the key to humanity’s survival. He started his advocacy for his Peace Day by writing letters to every state leader, their ambassadors, Nobel peace laureates, NGOs, faith based organizations, and other various organizations. Then in 1999 his dream of Peace One Day came true. In 1999 all the member states of the United Nations adopted the 21st of September as Peace Day. This day is recognized as an annual global ceasefire and non-violence day.

Jeremy Gilley’s Peace One Day is recognized every year, but unfortunately the day hasn’t gotten the full attention it deserves. Gilley was to make a statement with Kofi Annan on September 11, 2001 to advocate for his event, but because of the attack on the World Trade Center the statement never happened. However, the events on September 11, 2001 made Gilley work even harder. He was even more empowered and inspired to move forward with Peace One Day. This led to Gilley, along with actor Jude Law, to start work for peace in Afghanistan. Because of the pair advocating for Peace Day the Taliban sent him letter and said they would observe the day, and not engage in violence. The Taliban doing this led to 1.6 million people vaccinated for polio and violence on that day was down by 70%.

Due to this success Gilley has initiated a new plan for 2012, a Global Truce Day. This day will show younger generations that we can make a stop to violence with small acts of non-violence in our everyday lives. Gilley wants to utilize all kinds of resources from dance to social media and globally network with government, intergovernmental, and education leaders.

Gilley’s idea of utilizing education into his plan for 2012’s Global Truce Day helped persuade me to write this blog post about his event. Gilley wants to get young people to be the driving force to inspire individual action, so he has complied an educational resource for teachers to implement non-violence and other peace concepts into the classroom.

I can see this educational resource implemented in almost every formal grade level classroom. The students would need a little background on what conflict is, so because of this, starting at the fourth or fifth grade level would probably be best. However, this could fluctuate determined on how the students are influenced by conflict in their everyday lives. By implementing these resources in a classroom setting these children can practice non-violence in their schools, and also bring what they learn outside of the school setting and teach others.

Ways to use this resource:
Gilley includes many different types of lessons in his educational resource. This comprehensive resource includes 21 one-hour lesson plans for exploring issues of peace, nonviolence, and the protection of the environment, with extended projects for Peace Day on September 21st. I think this resource would be best integrated by first starting with showing Gilley’s documentary for one day of class, doing the lesson that corresponds to that, then moving on to the individual lessons maybe once a month until the actual Peace Day on the 21st. The students could help plan how they want their school to recognize and celebrate the event. In addition to using Gilley’s lesson plans I think it would be important for each teacher to incorporate their own discussion in their classrooms on non-violence, and other peace education areas. This would help each individual classroom relate to what types of conflict are going on in their societies.

The goal of each lesson, whether it be with Gilley’s lesson plans or the teacher’s, would be to spread knowledge about ways to bring about peace in small ways. These can be from their knowledge on non-violence to their knowledge of eco-resolution. Each lesson will more than likely encourage a student to go out and spread what they learned to another, and therefore spread the movement of peace.

“We should oppose violence in all situations and of course there’s no better way of bringing that about than through the power of education.”-Jeremy Gilley

Resources:
Peace One Day website: http://peaceoneday.org/
Peace One Day’s educational resources: http://peaceoneday.org/teachers/

Video Games for Peace

Three of the top ten best-selling video games of 2011 are characterized by explicit violence and main objectives which celebrate using various means by the user character to destroy other characters (1). While there has been very little clear evidence linking violence portrayed in video games to violence by users, the game market is notably void of games made explicitly for peace.  Video games can be used by educators to promote peaceful ways to conflict resolution without distracting from the education system’s core curriculum.

Video games as explicit means of peace education do not form an established genre in the gaming world. But, some games have been developed that reward peaceful means of conflict resolution and penalize violent behavior. For example, the video game Civilization tasks the user with building a thriving civilization from the ground up, but the user is penalized if major violence and riots occur in the user’s civilization. The 2007 video game PeaceMaker, tasks the user with taking one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and implementing a peaceful two-state solution, all the while being challenged by realistic events occuring during the user’s play.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iPvWefuPwo

A short video on PeaceMaker

In what context can video games for peace be used in learning? What type of lesson plan can be used with the goal of peace learning in mind? One possible context is for these video games to be integrated into the computer classes present in primary and secondary education. Simple point-and-click mini-games, which reward win-win situations between the user and computer intelligence and penalize aggressive behavior, can demonstrate peaceful ways to deal with conflict and are appropriate for users with relatively basic computer skills. These games can be used by educators to reward excellence and progress in computer classes, and since they are cheap and easy to produce, can be integrated into existing computer literacy programs. Certain classes in the social sciences could play a short video game that explains peaceful methods of conflict resolution and challenges students with finding the most peaceful solution in relations between people and groups of people. Students with advanced computer skills could play role-playing games, such as Civilization and PeaceMaker, in classes, clubs, and camps. In all these examples, it is essential for the educator to review the rewards-and-penalties systems existing in the game and prompt the students to reflect on how these games simulate decision making in conflicts.

Implementation of a lesson plan using video games is hampered by two problems: a lack of resources and a lack of pedagogy. Many education systems do not have computers available for student use aside from special computer literacy courses or lack adequate computer labs for students to use in this lesson plan. The use of video games geared for peace in a school curriculum could face problems in implementation because video games are often associated with laziness and distractions from education, rather than a form of education itself. Peace education through video games would receive less criticism in being implemented if educators demonstrated the success of other interactive games in teaching educational topics and assisting core curricula.

Video games can be used as an educational resource for peace. Video games designed specifically for demonstrating and rewarding peaceful solutions to conflicts can be integrated into existing educational settings and can fit into larger lesson plans on conflict and peace. Peace educators can use video games as a way for students to explore peace in an accessible environment and apply peace education topics to simulated conflicts.

(1): These three games, (Call of Duty: Black Ops, Mortal Kombat and L.A. Noire), are noted by the Entertainment Software Rating Board for blood, gore, and intensive violence.  The best-seller rating comes from a CNBC article.

Useful Links:

Antony Adolf article on peace-based video games

PeaceMaker video game official website (can be purchased for download)