Forum 2.1

This forum is a place for you to share your takeaways and learnings from week 2 – Foundations of Peace Education.

In the comment section of this page, please respond to following three questions:

  1. What is one takeaway or learning you had from the phone conversation with your learning partner this week? It can be something your partner shared with you or your own idea that the conversation helped you flesh out.
  2. What was your experience like with this week’s daily peace action? Is this an action that you could see incorporating into your personal life, your teaching, and/or with your students? If so, how?
  3. What is one quote from any of the readings or videos that you find particularly relevant or motivational for your teaching and education work?

27 thoughts on “Forum 2.1

  1. 1. Fourth coming
    2. This week’s peace action was actually something I do frequently without thinking of it so it was quite interesting to be intentional and be reflective about it. I have long used humor as an ice breaker when meeting new people, as a diffuser of angst in moments of tension, and as entertainment in moments of both fun and saddness. What I hadnt realized until this week is that I also use it in the classroom to bond with, gain the attention of, and humanize myself before my students.
    3. Two quotes from both from Ian Harris spoke to me, one as an idea that will guide my practice as an educator and the other that serves as a motivator to always keep the tennants of peace education in mind and in practice. They are as follows…
    “Peace education tries to inoculate students against the evil effects of violence by teaching them skills to manage their conflicts nonviolently…”

    ” Social violence and warfare can be described as a formof pathology, a disease. Yet, we continue to respond to most forms of violence and the repeated outbreak of warfare, rather than by trying to eliminate their cause.”

  2. 1. I haven’t been able to get in touch with my partner yet, but i can repost when I hear back on this!

    2. The daily peace action was something I had spent some time trying in the past, and generally I have enjoyed my experience with it, smiling at strangers on the street or giving unsolicited compliments. This is something I already attempt to incorporate in my daily life. It tends to improve my own mood when I make an attempt to improve someone else’s. In the classroom, sharing a joke is great when it comes to building relationships with kids.

    The easiest and most rewarding smile-making: BABIES! I had some fun this week laughing with a series of babies that I visited on my tour of friends who dot the midwest, while traveling out to missouri to participate in a teaching institute at the University of Missouri.

    3. QUOTE from Riane Eisler p 24.”Partnership process makes it possible for children to experience relationship process makes it possible for children to experience relations where their voices are heard, their ideas are respected, and their emotional needs are understood.”

    Reading from Education for a Culture of Peace reminded me that formal education has an obligation to model for parnership rather than domination. I was reminded of a radio story I heard about research conducted by Vivian Paley on how students can actually prefer learn share and play nicely together without isolating others:

    Its harder for high school aged students, but we still have responsibility to model fairness and partnership.

    • Hello Alexandra. Thanks for these comments, reflections and sharing the link to the story. This is great resource sharing. Why do you think high school students have a more difficult time sharing and playing nicely together? Nature? Nurture?

  3. I once again really enjoyed this week’s peace action. I found that I realized I already use humor and laughter naturally as a way to form stronger connections with people, which I consider part of community building, and therefore could also be considered peace building. So in some ways this week’s action was natural for me, but in others it was a unique challenge because making someone laugh, or laughing with someone is different than making them smile. Most attempts did result in laughter rather a smile. I found myself thinking about the concept of gratitude during this process – as I was searching for what makes me personally smile rather than laugh. One really successful attempt was reminiscing with friends about something really fun we had done together in the past, or asking them about experiences in their lives that I knew they enjoyed and asking them to tell me more about it (i.e., a trip, a project, etc.). I can definitely envision applying/adapting this activity to a learning environment. We already have one lesson about “perspective” when students are invited to share a story of a time when they had an experience or learned something new that ultimately deeply influenced their perspective on a certain issue or value in their lives. I could apply this to other lessons, for example culture — they could share a cultural tradition that they enjoy participating in with their family.

    Quote form Pedagogy of the Oppressed: “Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information… Accordingly, the practice of problem-posing education entails at the outset that the teacher-student contradiction to be resolved. Dialogical relations–indispensable to the capacity of cognitive actors to cooperate in perceiving the same cognizable object–are otherwise impossible.”

    I think it’s fascinating to think learning a new concept (cognizable object) and understanding it in the same way as those in your learning environment (other students and teachers) is only possible in an environment absent of the power dynamics that exist within the banking concept setting.

    In addition to teacher-student and student-teacher relationships, I think a lot about power dynamics in learning environments in which I work. Power dynamics are of course also very relevant in the field of international development. Working for a global education non-profit, I often feel caught in the middle of challenging power dynamics that exist in both fields (international development and education). We pair classrooms between countries in learning partnerships to teacher each other about their own cultures, communities, perspectives, aspirations, etc. In this model we very intentionally position our students in the role of “teacher” as they communicate with their partner class in another country. All of our classrooms in each of our cities around the world go through the same curriculum concepts in the same order and yet we still see power dynamics that represent trends from the outside or “real” world creep into the relationships of our partner classrooms.

    For example, our curriculum formerly had a larger focus on creating service learning projects based on a global challenge of their choice that the class studied over the course of the year. The last part of the curriculum tasked the students with creating a service learning project to address this pressing issue. They spent the entire year focusing on learning more about their *own* community and how this challenge affected the people in their city/region (all the while sharing that information with their partner classroom). When it came time to create a project, if one of the classes in the partnership was located in the “global north” (i.e., the US, Canada, Europe, etc.) and the other in the “global south”, the global north students would often come up with ideas such as an awareness campaign about the state of the issue in the region of their partner classroom, or a fundraising campaign in order to send money to their partner classroom. Even as middle school students these American and Canadian students seemed to be conditioned to see people in other countries (especially those in the developing world) as people who need their “help”, rather than people with whom they could collaborate and learn from while sharing project ideas to implement in their *own* respective communities as empowered and valuable community members/actors.

    Over the years we have improved our methods for creating curriculum and learning environments that promote equal relationships absent of power dynamics, but it is of course very challenging, as I’m sure many of us in this class are keenly aware. I think that Paulo Freire supported acknowledging our histories as people and societies and then moving forward as liberated partners (or learners/teachers/students together), but this is also so challenging to do well, and something I would like to work on incorporating into our curriculum in a productive way.
    In any case, I appreciated this caption from the reading because it reminded me of how important I believe our work is and that it will simply take time and take practice. The more that students learn from each other and learn about each others’ cultures and values and communities *from each other* the more that they will have the “capacity of cognitive actors to cooperate in perceiving the same cognizable object,” and therefore work in partnership in creating a better world.

    • Hello, Cady. Thank you so much for this deep sharing. You mentioned a couple things that I think are particularly notable. The first is the difference between laughing and smiling. The difference is immense, as you say, and it requires a very different kind of interaction if you are going for a laugh based on a spontaneous reaction (to a certain extent) vs sharing, saying or doing something that may take a moment for the person or people to absorb and digest and then have that blossom into a smile. Very keen observation, Cady.

      Second, the issue of power dynamics is very real and can be very sensitive. The story you share of the schools in the global north and those in the global south reminds me of the quote that Barbara Wien shared in her intro video. There is a famous aboriginal quote that goes something along the lines of, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time….. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
      –Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s.

      • Yes! I think that is my favorite quote of all time (so far). It’s in my email signature and I never get tired of it. Such powerful words.

  4. 1) I practice this Peace Actions on a everyday basis. I’m constantly giving compliments and being silly and charming. Naturally those three things put a smile on people faces. My experience on this week peace action was simply letting my players know how great of a job they were doing while competing in a NFL HSPD tournament at the Cleveland Brown facility. Every time they made a good play I gave them recognition and a smile came afterwards.

    2) I read the National Peace Academy’s spheres of peace and right relationships. The very first sentence stuck out. “The United States is troubled by the ongoing impacts of multiple wars, faltering housing and financial markets, an ever expanding income gap, soaring energy prices, a homicide rate ten times that of other leading industrial nations, and a prison population that includes 7 in every 100 citizens.” This quote is relevant to me because its happening here in America. We can’t change the world alone, but like a puzzle, if everyone takes ownership for self (personal development) and we all collectively put the peace’s of that puzzle together, then change could happen here in the U.S.. Being a educator, you have to stress life lessons in the classroom because they are just as important as the content of your class.

    • No doubt, Jerron. Very well put on the issue of stressing life lessons. It goes back to the question of what’s the purpose of education, after all? This is why the seventh blossom of peace education in my framework is skill building that influences how we engage with the world outside of the classroom. What value is learning knowledge, skills, and attitudes if they are not folded into life lessons that help us be better people and make the world a better place? (rhetorical question, of course).

  5. From my conversation with Nona I grew in my understanding of the role Eisler’s governance models play in our school system. As Nona shared, DCPS can be seen as a layered reality of different governance models with the overarching goal of a peaceable culture. Currently, our central office employs a dominance model, with its IMPACT evaluations and prescribed instructional methods and pacing charts. In the classroom, between teacher and students it’s a model of partnership where facilitation is the key. I found this really interesting, especially as I recall my early days in education when central office practiced a partnership role by encouraging schools to establish their own school management models and, in the classroom, teachers employing a dominance model, requiring students to sit straight forward and listen to their lectures. Nona and I also discussed collaborating with Mary and Alex S. since we work at the same school. It would be great to come up with a joint nonviolence initiative or project?

    This week’s daily peace action is one I already practice. It builds community and positive relationships. Making people smile, also, lifts everyone’s spirits. In the library, this is definitely an effective practice in building and maintaining our community’s positive culture. Even when we remove someone for violation of a non-negotiable, we try to make them smile in knowing we hold no grudges and they are welcome to return the next day.

    One quote I found particularly relevant was by Colman McCarthy, “Criticizing the way of violence is hollow unless we can offer alternatives.” or, in other words, “Talk is cheap”. I think I’ll post this on my bedroom mirror and in my office as a constant reminder.

    • Hi, Pam. Thank you for these reflections. This flipped dynamic you mention between the central office and the teachers and then between the teachers and the students I find very interesting. I need to learn more about the IMPACT evaluation, but I actually have a former students who worked in the the DCPS central office doing work around IMPACT and she connected what that evaluation considers excellent teaching with all the skills, methods and models that were introduced in the peace education class. She found A LOT of overlap. Let me see if I can find her paper and I can share it with all of you. It was quite fascinating. The point I am trying to make is that there can a be model and a set of values (embedded in IMPACT), but if the model is not practiced or the values not exercised by those responsible for institutionalizing the model (DCPS central office) then its basically worthless.

      Secondly, Colman is great and hopefully I can find a way to bring him into this course. I had intended to interview him prior to the start, but never found the time.

  6. Tina shared her thoughts about Colman McMarthy, who I am now encouraged to go and read on my own. She said that after reading about McMarthy, she realized that she doesn’t feel like she can fully relate to her students because she is unfamiliar with their lives outside of her classroom. We talked about how our ability to empathize with our students would grow immensely if we could spend a day in a student’s life. I understand the risks that are associated with visiting a student’s home outside of the classroom, but I think that this would be outweighed by the benefits associated with this type of visit. Tina and I also agreed that we have been left wanting to learn more about implementing peace education in our classrooms.

    It’s rewarding to know how simple it is to make someone smile. When I set out on this week’s daily peace action, I made my list of different ways to make someone smile (say good morning, lend a helping hand, donate time, etc.) and even did some research, looking up jokes/riddles that were sure to make someone smile if they were having a bad day. I quickly realized, though, that it is the simple things I do that can make someone smile. Every time I met up with a friend, an automatic smile spread across both of our faces. When getting a temporary parking pass I wrote the license plate number on my wrist so I didn’t have to carry paper/phone with and the woman smiled and giggled as I looked at my wrist to read off the number to her. Saying “Good morning.” and “Thank you.” and “I hope you have a good day, too.” to the staff member at the front desk of the gym, brought a smile. At the same time, the conscious effort of helping other people smile made me feel happier and more peaceful because I wanted others to feel happier and more peaceful. “Make someone smile” would be a great daily goal that I would like my students to set for themselves each day. At the beginning of the year I could make this a daily goal and they can reflect on their efforts at the end of each day. Through this process, hopefully, students would start to independently incorporate this goal into their lives and their reflective and inquisitive skills would strengthen.

    It will always be a challenge for me to chose one quote from the readings because there are so many motivational quotes that relate to my teaching and practices…
    “The challenge, the foremost task, is the cultivation of universal, unconditional, all-embracing love in the hearts of all students so that they become the builders of a new world – a better world that gives the human race long-lasting peace and all existences on earth a sustainable ecological home.”
    “What really matters is our contribution to the world.”
    “Compassion empowers us, humility expands us, and simplicity frees us.”

    • Hello Cassandra. Thanks for your reflections. Re: better understanding how students live and what they go through outside of the classroom – I wonder if there is a way for you to tap into this knowledge without going and visiting their homes. This might be something to keep thinking about throughout the course. What I hear in this is a desire to know your students better so you can relate to them better so that they know and feel that you care about them. This may not necessarily warrant a visit to the home, which, as you and Tina said, carries certain risks.

      I love the quotes you selected, particularly the last one.

      Lastly, I love that you researched ways to make people smile and then came to realization that you have this skill and practice it every day already. I think its a great thing to incorporate into your teaching, especially if you provide time to have student share their experiences with this practice.

  7. #1
    My partner this week was Cassandra. We are both very dedicated to finding an answers to help our students inside and outside of the classroom. One particular statement Cassandra made was how do we teach them the pedagogy when we don’t actually know ourselves? What we mean is that most of us don’t live in DC and the environment is totally different. How can we begin to understand the struggle they go through once they leave our schools? One solution she said was spending a day in the life of our students. This way we are well prepared to use our knowledge from this class to implement in our classes.
    We both read Jing Lin and thought that her views were very ideal, but unrealistic. Cassandra stated maybe having a school that is embellishing her ideas to see if they really work. Having a pilot school. We are both getting fed so much through this class and it keeps us wanting more, can’t wait until the next weeks readings. But we want dessert now, how is this going to look in our classes, what are the next steps, how do we implement this. I truly enjoyed my conversation with Cassandra. It is great to see that other educators are feeling the same way, but they are also looking for answers too and not waiting to see what drops in their laps.

    • Hello, Tina. This is a healthy and beautiful frustration that you and Cassandra are experiencing. Its this frustration that, if channeled in a healthy way, can lead to some amazing experimentation in your classrooms.

      I can totally relate to you about not living in the communities in which you are teaching. I experience this in DC schools (I live in VA) in international contexts (e.g. workshops I have facilitated in Cambodia, Mexico, Belize, and other places). But, I have developed a greater sense of comfort and wonderment in these situations. I see it is an opportunity to embrace the unknown/unfamiliar and in so doing authentically seek the stories, perspectives, and experiences of those with whom I am sharing the learning experience. And I do this with the intent to walk away a better educator, with new ideas, stories, perspectives, etc. I used to fear being the person “not in the know” or the “outsider” who doesn’t understand the cultures in which I find myself. Now I see it as an opportunity to be a learner. There is no doubt this is challenging at times, but helps me walk into situations without fear that I will be rejected.

  8. 1) One of the topics that my partner Mary Ann and I talked about this week was balancing peace education while maintaining discipline and control in the classroom. Both of us agreed that we need to find a happy medium so as to be strict enough to not let our students walk all over us and to also maintain a peaceable learning community. As I am not a teacher yet, it is important for me to be thinking about these concepts. I know that I cannot prepare myself for every situation that will come up in my future classroom, but I can at least prepare myself by having some sort of framework in place to help me. Mary Ann and I also talked about how history, specifically U.S. history, is taught in education. Specifically, how war-centric it is taught. We talked about how not all students relate to or are interested in that, and as teachers, we need to find ways to balance teaching about some very difficult times while maintaining a peaceful classroom environment and encouraging peaceful behaviors.

    2) This week’s daily peace action took many forms this week. For example, I tried to tell more jokes to people in an effort to make them laugh and smile. But, I realized that you don’t need to be funny in order to get people to smile. You can make people smile by just walking past somebody and saying hello and see if they say hello back. My fiance and I hiked in Great Falls Park on Saturday, and it was interesting to notice that the people who said “hi” back on the trail usually did it with a smile. I also found you can also get others to smile by doing something for them. This week, a coworker of mine celebrated her 20th anniversary of working in our office. So, I took that coworker out to lunch, and just having someone think of her made her smile as well.

    3) I thought there were 3 videos that were especially impactful this week. They were all found off of the presentation. The most impactful video was on mediation and how a school in Visitacion Valley middle school in the San Francisco area. “We are giving the kids a coping mechanism, the problems that you have keep coming except your ability to deal with them changes, behaviorally you see a difference definitely their behavior and being more manageable in class”- Rose Ludwig, 6th grade teacher at visitacion. The video showed that as the school incorporated mediation, or as the school calls it “quiet time,” the school truancy rate and suspension rate showed significant reductions. I thought for a my future high school students, having activities that could reduce their stress level would be important and extremely beneficial. I think having them meditate would help lower their stress levels. This leads me to want to incorporate an activity like this is my future classroom.

    • Hello Alex. I am glad to hear you and Mary Ann had a fruitful conversation. One thing that I would like to add to what you are shared with each other is to not associate peace with “order” or “control.”

      Great peace activists (like Dr. King) and peace theorists (like Johan Galtung) have taught us that there are two kinds of peace – negative peace, which is merely the absence of violence and positive peace, which is the presence of systems that are life-affirming and support co-existence and restorative methods for addressing conflict. The point being, you can have peace w/out justice (e.g. lock “bad” people up, prevent people from speaking their minds and challenging social norms, suspend and expel “troublemakers,” etc.). This may create order and enforce control, but it may lack justice, which, as Dr. King says, “…is what love sounds like when spoken in public.”

      There is a lot more for us to unpack as group as it relates to this idea of peace, order, control, etc. We are going to touch in this in a future sessions when we talk about the difference between safety and comfort in a learning environment, so be on the lookout for that.

  9. One take away/learning that I got from my phone conversation with Pam is that peace education is key and essential in the school environment and as educators we promote peace on a daily basis. Pam also suggests that as a group of Wilson teachers participating in this course we should devise some strategies to incorporate some of this peace education in our school communtiy in a more formal way. I am on board for that!!
    I did not monitor how many times I made others smile consistently this week. However, I can recall instances of smile from my students when I shared a positve progress report with them. My daughter also smiled when I made a positive comment on her “Queen of Sheba” hairdo.After our conversation, I could “see” Pam smiling as we said our good byes at the end. Yes, I need to make it a daily task to connect more with people and get them to smile. This can be practiced with greeting my students as they enter the classroom with a positive comment, commend them for their daily success, and encourage them when they feel down.
    There were many meaningful and thought provoking ideas in the readings this week.One quote that resonates with me is taken from Riane Eisler in her discussion of the Dominant Model vs. the Partnership Model and how each may/may not promote violence. According to Reisler, the dominant model of authority has been mostly prevalent in society, community, and even school environment in the earlier years. However the partnershp is slowly becoming the acceptable norm and is the most beneficial in the educational environment. She says, “Partnership process makes it possible for children to experience relations where their voices are heard, their ideas are respected and their emotional needs are understood. Child-centered education, holistic education, cooperative learning, education for nonviolent conflict-resolution, and other progressive education movements have been laying the the groundwork for partnership educational process” (Reisler p. 26). I endorse Reisler comment here, but would like to see less disparity in this process in the educational environment, so that all students across all the spectrum of society will be afforded the same opportunity.

    • I’m interested in collaborating with you, Pam, and Alex to apply some of the ideas we are learning about peace education at Wilson. I know that Alex and I are both interested in cooperative education. I like what you and Pam have each shared about creating more of a partnership environment in the classroom despite whatever the model is outside the classroom. At the least, perhaps we can share resources and ideas in these areas. –Mary Ann

    • When the word collaboration pops up in conversation it makes my heart big! I am so glad to hear that the Wilson teachers are starting to form a community of practice around the methods and models of peace education…and we are only 2 weeks into the course ;).

      Nona, I also like the quote you selected from Eisler’s work. I would be interested to hear more about what you mean by “disparity in this process in the educational environment.”

  10. I am answering the 2nd and 3rd questions first. Will respond the 1st one after talking to my partner.
    #2. This week’s daily practice is not really a practice for me, because I am a person who always try to make others smile. It is a personality thing, I believe. I have a sense of humor so that when I talk to people, I genuienly make others laugh without trying hard. I like this “special talent” about myself, because it gives my friends and students a positive energy. When I pass my humor to others, it draws me closer to my students. Students love me first, then I can go ahead teach without worrying a potential/hidden unhealthy environment.

    #3. I was motivated by the quote from Education for a Culture Peace “Teacher facilitate learning rather than controlling and indoctrination”. As I mentioned in another response, I grew up in China, and was taught the teacher is the authority, and we can’t challenge it. I always had a fear when I talked to my teachers, for some reasons. I didn’t know why until I read the article. I realized that when we talk about peace education, it is not only narrowed within wars, but also peace education applies every corner/ any forms of education. As the speaker in the video mentioned a few examples, some people plant trees to support peace education, some people refused to pay war tax, etc. It absolutely broadened my mind and understanding of what peace education is.

    • Hello Miao. I am so glad that the video and the reading has helped broaden you understanding of what peace education can and has looked like. Also, what a profound reflection on your own learning growing up in China and thinking about why you were afraid to speak to your teachers.

      Also, I look forward to the day when I can experience your special talent in person and draw from your positive energy 🙂

  11. #2
    I love to make people smile. Where I am from, West Virginia we speak walking down the street, in the store, anywhere if we make eye contact. When I relocated to the DMV area, it was like pulling teeth, people are so rude and angry all the time. So yes, I love making my students smile. This will make the class a lot more conducive to learning if they already have a great attitude going into the lesson. This is were you can incorporate a fun icebreaker.

  12. 1) Alex C. and I shared a common experience of having learned mostly about wars in our high school history classes and we don’t want to be history teachers who only touch on wars and nothing else. We talked about how some students don’t connect much with war (though some do, like 9th grade boys obsessed with military hardware) and how we can draw them in by teaching about what happened between wars. For example, in U.S. history, I’ve gotten really good responses teaching about Westward Expansion, the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural South to northern cities, and the Harlem Renaissance. There’s nothing in my school or district that stops me from teaching less about war and more about other themes, but it does take extra work to find appropriate materials.

    Alex and I also talked about how there needs to be a balance between empowering students and also managing the class. We talked about how we both are rather laidback and don’t want students to walk all over us. I had some discipline problems this year because I wasn’t strict enough in enforcing classroom guidelines such as that one person speaks at a time. Students expect a teacher to keep a certain amount of order. I need to figure that out in a way that fits with who I am.

    2) I liked how the daily peace action encouraged me to be deliberate in connecting with others. When I went for my daily walk in Silver Spring, I intentionally smiled at everyone I met and most people smiled back.

    3) Paulo Freire said that in the current education system, teachers lean toward “alienating verbosity.” OK, I admit it, I sometimes lose my students by talking too much about stuff they are not interested in. I do not, however, have the intention to “alienate human beings from their own decision-making” and turn them into “objects” as Freire claims can be the results. Basically, I feel that teaching is an impossible job but I’m going to try to do my best with it. I have a lot of great lessons in which kids are engaged. But I also have some lessons where I spend too much time talking. I’m not going to beat myself up but rather just try to get better.

  13. I’m answering #3 first and come back to the others later. My quote is “We live under a dysfunctional government that squanders our money on violent military programs to deal with other dysfunctional armed government”. Colman McMarthy
    Kudos to him for having the balls (sorry) for saying that.we are fighting people who obviously
    Don’t care about their country, so we go in and tell them how to run it at the cost of our citizens, the cost of our students education. When violence is all they see then what are they to do, how are they to react. When we can spend billions on or to aid another country, but can’t help our on, we have a serious problem. I love reading McCarthy’s reading. It was so true and an easy read.
    In order for our children to better themselves, don’t rely on anyone else but yourself. This country is going in every direction in education it’s almost funny. This is we’re we, the true educators have to do our diligence in making sure we reach as many children as we can. #lovethechildren

  14. Pingback: Week 2 – Foundations of Peace Education (Summer 2013) | Peace Learner

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