Meet Arthur Romano
Arthur Romano is an Assistant Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. He is a scholar-practitioner whose research and applied interests include global educational movements, the use of transformative and experiential education in communities affected by violence and nonviolence education. Professor Romano teaches courses on identity and conflict resolution, peace education and group, community and organization conflict analysis and resolution. Arthur’s PhD research utilized complexity theory to examine pedagogical innovation in the field of international peace education.
Arthur has designed and implemented experiential educational programs in Asia, Africa, and Central America on peace and conflict resolution related themes. He co-developed the Diversity Matters Now workshop series, which explores issues related to identity and peace-building in colleges and universities across the US.
Arthur is also committed to the ‘co-production of knowledge’ and has worked with various community actors to generate and disseminate information about conflict resolution and peace education. In 2011, he wrote Education for Peace: A Resource Guide for Educators and the Community, and in 2005, he worked with a coalition of community groups to produce Teaching Peace in Scotland. Both publications were generated in dialogue with community educators and were offered free of charge through a coalition of allied organizations (GMU.edu)
Read the publication, Education for Peace: A Resource Guide for Teachers and the Community. In it Arthur builds off of Betty Reardon’s earlier work and gives a more contemporary look at the state of education for peace – its various approaches and methods.
“What is emerging may be nothing short of a revolution in how education is practiced. Peace education approaches are experiential, collaborative and extend far beyond the walls of individual schools. It is a living global system, comprised of dynamic networks of people from highly varied backgrounds working in solidarity to create a better world” (Romano).
Reflection Question: What is one adaptation, addition, or creative twist you would make to the lesson plan exploring the 6 principles of Kingian Nonviolence? How would this change make this lesson plan more engaging or appropriate for the learners with which you work?
The component that I would add to the 6 part lesson is some sort of personal reflection. I would ask the students to reflect on their experiences as an expert and what they took away from the project. I feel that this would make it have more of an impact, because the students would have to get in touch with their personal feelings and discuss how the experience and readings affected them.
Daniel Knoll – At the conclusion of this lesson I would have the students write a reflection about the experience, and how their perspective on the material shifts from the reading, developing questions and then having to defend a principle. Students can also reflect on how their group handled the situation and what it felt like for the teacher to shift the assignment and make them the experts in this situation. Having a reflection period is appropriate for any learning environment because it is a chance to make sure students get the right take aways from the assignment and have a chance to share their thoughts with their classmates.
This seems like a fun activity! For the students I work with on campus, I might make the activity more challenging by asking students to practice one of King’s six principles that week and then report back the following week, similar to our good projects.
Annsleigh Carter: For The Pilgrimage activity, I might like to add some type of reflective writing component. When students are put on the “expert panel,” they may feel like they are being put on the spot to answer the question most accurately, or they might be too shy to speak at all. After the activity, I might have each student write a short paper reflecting on one of the principles in their own lives, or on the activity as a whole, to give them an opportunity to share their personal thoughts and reflections.
For this exercise I would change the creating of simple questions to making “interview questions”. Then I would have each student on the hot seat for one question as Dr. King and a student from the group with the question as the interviewer. Since the class would be media related, this could be a good exercise for practicing interview techniques as well as seeing how it feels to be in the hot seat. If time and equipment permits, the interviews can even be recorded in a studio so the other students can practice those skills as well.
I might adapt the lesson plan to include more analysis of contemporary forms of violence. I might ask the expert panel to identify one or two instances of violence they’ve seen in the news, in their communities, in their schools and explain how that relates to the reading. I would then let the groups formulate their questions. The groups would be encouraged to create questions about the identified violence and ask the experts about non-violence in terms of the identified violence. The experts would then be able to answer the questions using King’s principles by applying them to a contemporary form of violence.
The one adaptation, addition or creative twist I would make is at Step 3 of the lesson plan. In addition to asking the groups to Generate questions, I would encourage them to push themselves to move beyond clarification questions and to find arguments which are contrary to the six principles and hence generate a debate. The Expert Panels would then be more energetic and engaged.
I really liked the variety of teaching and learning methods employed in the storytelling activity. I also like the way the written assignment is broken into small parts and asks for descriptions. To adjust the activity I might make it more focused such as having students describe a time in which they felt a particular emotion and explore that further, or relating it to something they have read or studied in class. For younger students I might have them illustrate their stories or use symbols and colors to describe emotions and feelings.
In the Dr. King lesson I liked the idea of ‘expert panels’ to answer their questions but might think of a way to get all of the students to participate or make students aware that they are to be ‘experts’ on one of the principles and define their understanding of that principle before the other group asks them questions. For the adaptation for younger students I might change some of the language in the questions such as ‘standing by your convictions’ or further develop understanding of what that means through examples and stories or having them think of their own examples or stories first. I would also change some of the statements and also start them with easy ones that might be funny and get them to relax into the ideas first and then move to heavier statements that might be more controversial. I would also have them do a think-pair-share before a group discussion to really think about specific examples of when it was hard to stand by their ‘convictions’ and why.
I really liked the layout of this lesson plan and I would definitely have to modify it for my middle school students. I work with many students with learning disabilities and they would first need much more processing time and a scaffolded presentation of the reading. Before we had a large group discussion, I would allow students to meet in small learning groups with prompting questions for the large group discussion. This would allow everyone time to prepare and participate. I always use equity sticks for participation and I would do this – and tell the students that we would be choosing people to give input for each question or offer a comment – so that everyone has incentive to prepare.
I would have my students complete notes on our group discussion – probably on a graphic organizer – so they remember the main points when we start small group discussion for question creation.
The lesson plan is fairly well-composed. The end has a note about how the class must be managed in such a way as to encourage mutual respect amongst the students (and teacher). This is always difficult with my students as they often talk at inappropriate times and with inappropriate fervor. Instead of disagreeing with a measured tone, often students will raise their voice and offer a colorful phrase or two.
To make responses more measured, I would have them write their questions on the butcher paper and make sure each group had the same number of questions. I would them have students rotate around the room in their own groups, answering one question each. By the time each group got to their own paper, the idea would be that each question was answered, but they could still have time to debrief from the activity. It also might help for each group to use a different color for writing, so their answers could be easily identified.
This is just one of many slight modifications you can utilize to increase constructive dialog in what can be a chaotic classroom environment.
I might involve other students in the lesson at some point, beyond those in my (hypothetical) class. It could be interesting if students of different ages or classes of different subjects did this lesson together. It would create the added effect of working with someone you don’t know, haven’t met before, and potentially don’t understand. It might frustrate the process, but it would also give students a sense of the universality of King’s principles of nonviolence. Including a mix of students in the exercise could elevate the lesson from just another in-class activity to something with real possibility to exist outside the classroom.
In order to adapt the lesson plan, I would add a step of creating suggestions/a plan in a modern context. I would have the students choose an advocate that is currently active in any social justice movement. From there, I would have them recreate the “expert panel” exercise and discuss how they would act as the advocate to create a more just world.
I think this is a very solid lesson plan. The content is rich, the format is interactive, and the discussion is meaningful. If I were to make an addition, I would include a section titled “What would you do?” I would have the expert panel respond in a similar fashion as they did for the original activity – that is have the students respond from the perspective of Dr. King. Now I would pose a situational question (based on a historical situation or a make-believe circumstance) to the panel, and ask the students to discuss among themselves and report back to the class. They would then describe what they would do (or what King would do) in this situation, and describe how their knowledge of their Principle influenced their decision about how to respond.
I think this lesson is wonderful. I would love (and now plan) to adapt it to various texts I will read this year with my students. I like the fact that it incorporates reading, collaboration, inquiry, and discussion. The only addition I would make is to create a time for reflection – both written and oral – after the lesson. I would prompt the students to write about their internal experiences during this lesson: what challenged them? when did they feel most successful? what confused them? what surprised them? These questions can both address the actual content of Dr. King’s life as well as their personal experiences during the lesson. I would then open up the class to share what they had written with one another.