WHERE DO I START?

 

Q. - I am a retired teacher, and have been thinking about teaching peace and how to go about it.  I was under the impression that we needed to export the efforts to the warring nations overseas; but with the re-election of President Bush I see that we need it badly right here in the USA.  How can I get started importing your ideas and using them to educate our people?  Being retired, I have time but need info and guidance.  Where do I start?  (Shirley from Texas)

A. -

Dear Shirley,
 
Thank you for your message.  It is very heart-warming to read your comments, and hear your renewed commitment.  You have taken to heart the first important lesson of peace education: "peace starts at home" (and it does not matter if that home is in the U.S., Canada, Russia, Africa, or wherever; in fact, with all our riches, 'intelligence' and resources, if we can not figure this out how can we expect someone struggling to survive in Palestine or Afghanistan to figure it out?; furthermore, peace starts at home also means "peace starts with me").  It is unfortunate that many reasonably well-educated people (and people in positions of power) do not understand this.  And so that is our role, to be guides and supporters in helping people through the conflict.
 
"Where do I start?"  I would suggest starting by realizing that you already know a great deal about peace.  These are values that have remained unchanged for thousands of years.  You have probably learned from your parents or in kindergarten the fundamentals of peace and foreign policy: "Don't cheat.  Don't lie.  Don't steal.  Don't kill.  Do no harm.  Don't hate.  Don't seek revenge.  Be responsible.  Treat others with respect.  Seek friends who follow these rules."
 
Next, you will want to raise the level of your own understanding.  The purpose of our web site www.peace.ca is to help you better understand in a relatively short period of time what has taken me ten years to learn (and make no mistake, I am still learning as are all peace educators and peacebuilders).  Our web site also recommends a lot of other reading (eg. http://www.peace.ca/topten.htm ) and links.  During the process of personal study (P.S. "The only learning which significantly influences behaviour is self-directed, self-appropriated learning." Carl Rogers), you should develop your own mission or vision statement -- mine is, "to significantly reduce the human cost of violence in our communities and world".  Your personal vision will help guide you through tough times, and keep you focussed.  (A person could spend months or years studying all the material on our web site.  Do not get bogged down in study -- study without action is meaningless.  In fact, service learning or praxis is a most important feature of peace education.  Get active when you feel comfortable, or even before you get totally comfortable -- sometimes we must go outside our comfort zone, and not wait until we have things perfect or they will never start.)
 
In a separate email, I will forward a copy of a standard letter that I have on tips for things you can do to start .  In short, I have a profound belief that the most important thing we can do as peace educators is to facilitate conferencing, where people who share an interest in peace education can come together to share information, dialogue, network and develop action plans and solidarity.  "Selling" the idea of a conference on education for world peace may be a tough sell at the start, in certain quarters.  In such a case, consider the idea of a conference on education to significantly reduce violence in our schools and communities.  This is an example of being creative, and somewhat 'subversive' -- getting peace education onto the local agenda (or hidden curricula).
 
Please also see the article at http://www.peace.ca/betheguide.htm .  Also, for many reasons, retired people may be the most important resource for peacebuilding -- particularly if they have a concern about the world that their children and grandchildren will have to live in.  They should realize that 'Time is of the essence' to fix this planet, and have their own time and resources to do something. 
 
There is so much I could write, but I think that is sufficient for the moment.  Please feel free to contact me as necessary.  Best wishes in your very important work.  I hope to meet you in person some day.
 
Regards,
Bob Stewart
http://www.peace.ca
ANNUAL PEACE EDUCATION CONFERENCE IN CANADA http://www.peace.ca/CanadianAgenda2004.htm
 
"The world is dangerous not because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything." - Albert Einstein
 
WHAT FUTURE WILL YOU CREATE?
 
Making an Impact: Your gift to the Canadian Peace Education Foundation will do much to reduce the human cost of violence in our communities and world through education about peace and the future in classrooms.  Your gift will have a critical impact on future generations.  You will enable youngsters to widen their sights by exploring alternate paths to transforming conflicts and building a better world.  Gifts of cash, securities, and planned gifts are welcome and may be sent to the Canadian Peace Education Foundation, Box 70, Okotoks, AB, Canada, T1S 1A4.  For more information, visit the website at http://www.peace.ca/foundation.htm

NEWBUTTONPINK.GIF (519 bytes) P.S. Here is a quick list of fun things your students could take charge of:

Hopefully some of this gets your students’ creative juices flowing.  I think it is best for them to find out what “turns them on”, and then give them the support, direction and challenges to grow themselves in their area of interest.


NEWBUTTONPINK.GIF (519 bytes) Q. - Hello there,   I am an Education student at the University and I am conducting a presentation to my colleagues on Peace Education in our secondary Social Studies classrooms. I was wondering if you were able to provide any links, resources or advice to us up and coming teachers in teaching peace in the humanities. Thank you very much. (Amy from Saskatchewan)

A. -

Dear Amy,  

Links and resources –

·         our web site at www.peace.ca is a very extensive collection of resources. 

·         Specifically, I would draw your attention to www.peace.ca/curricula.htm for a list of educational materials. 

·         I would draw your attention to www.peace.ca/topten.htm for a list of the best books and videos that I can recommend to you and your students. 

·         I would draw your attention to http://www.peace.ca/peaceleader.htm for a list of resources on leadership, since educators are leaders and it is wonderful guidance.

·         I would draw your attention to http://www.peace.ca/wheredoistart.htm with some practical suggestions to get started.

·         I would draw your attention to http://www.peace.ca/montessorisites.htm to learn about the Montessori Method of education.  As education students you should know about the best example of peace education that I have found.

·         Also see http://www.peace.ca/EVOLVING%20CANADIAN%20CULTURE%20OF%20PEACE%20PROGRAM%202005.ppt for a Powerpoint summary of the evolution of peace education in Canada for building a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.  It has a powerful image of the educator as guide and leader on the path to raising Social Intelligence (refer to the book at www.peace.ca/topten.htm )

·         And http://www.peace.ca/educationpartnerships.htm

Advice –

A hint from Carl Rogers, "The only learning which significantly influences behaviour is self-directed, self-appropriated learning."   My personal preference is to provide "Our Mission: To Advance a Culture of Peace and Non-violence, at home and abroad" “Our Vision: To Significantly Reduce the Human Cost of Direct and Indirect Violence” … and “Our Method: Through Peace Education, to Raise the Level of Social Intelligence (i.e. Relationships) – skills, attitudes and behaviours to live together more successfully” … challenge the students to find solutions, and provide them with direction and support as they require based on their development level (competence and commitment).  The sphere of peace work is so broad that anyone can find something that turns them on – then they will be motivated to work hard as their passions unfold.  Most importantly, peace starts from within – peace educators must model peaceful behaviour in order to win others over.  This requires peace educators to “get their own act together” – understanding and mastering their own values, then understanding their student’s values, then communicating in terms of their student’s values. 

I hope some of this helps.  Please feel free to write with any more specific enquiries, and I would love to hear how you proceed.  In the meantime, best wishes in your work – what you are doing is most important.  

Regards,

Bob Stewart


NEWBUTTONPINK.GIF (519 bytes)Q. - I have been visiting www.peace.ca regularly over the last year and a half and am astounded by the wealth of information and ideas you’ve gathered/generated.  For the record, your mobilization accomplishments are truly impressive!

For some time I’ve known that I must get in touch with you.  As a teacher, facilitator, peace educator, wilderness instructor and curriculum/program designer among other things I have for the last few years participated in fascinating developments in the realm of “youth leadership education for social change”.  While I work full-time as an outdoor/ experiential educator throughout the school year, the most heartfelt and engaging part of my work is the time I spend as a curriculum coordinator at the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL) at Pearson College in Victoria , BC , a truly magical annual summer international youth gathering.  Many wonderful experiences unfold at PSYL, but the pieces that resonate with me are three: the “community self-regulation leadership model” (as we call it), personal narratives & storytelling  and a self-awareness activity dubbed “power circles”.  Despite the wealth of information given to the participants over three weeks and political, economic, environmental and social justice it is hands down these more spiritual/ emotional aspects of the program that support the youth in absorbing, internalizing and identifying with all the information so that they might take action.

Why am I writing to tell you all this you ask? Well, so impacted am I by the events that unfold at PSYL that I have finally decided to return to school to complete my MA this September (either at UBC’s Faculty of Education or at the UN University for Peace to be decided in the next few weeks) with an interest in youth leadership for positive social change with a focus on the role of spiritual/ emotional development in effective peace education initiatives. Today while browsing peace.ca I came across The Six Converging Elements That Will Impact Positively on Peace Education In The Future and more specifically, “The Wild Card” (ref. http://www.peace.ca/sixdevelopments.htm ).  While I have lofty goals and aspirations for a radical change in how and what we teach our children in this country, I am a believer in the need to incorporate a significant paradigm shift towards self-awareness teachings in order for any systemic change to occur.  While there are many, many wonderful non-formal organizations teaching incredible programs designed to foster self-awareness I have yet to see any consistency in this are in our public (or private) education system.

I am also drawn by the list of potential courses you suggest we should teach young people if we are truly serious about Peace Education (ref. http://www.peace.ca/CCOPPpeaceeducation.htm ).  When do we start developing those courses and running a pilot project?  How do we get public funding for a Peace High School in downtown Vancouver ?  How do we truly teach/ learn in a Peace Education model and still ensure students are able to pass the standardized test mandated by the BC Government?  What programs and research are already out there that might serve to support my interest/ desire to make change?!  (These are, of course, simply a few of many rhetorical questions that I don’t expect answers to at the moment).  I am motivated to use my research to build the foundation for a tangible program here in Vancouver and would be thrilled for any guidance, advice or support you might be able to offer in the journey.  I would also be thrilled to get involved with some of the tasks that need doing – what are some of the ways that I might get involved in the initiatives you have on the go?  

If you’ve made it this far, I thank you for reading!  I do hope to hear from you and will sign myself up for the appropriate list-serves ASAP. Thank you for all that you are doing.  Sincerely,  Jennifer S. 

A. -

Dear Jennifer,

What a wonderful way to start my Saturday.  Thank you for your kind comments about my work, and thank you for your inspiration to work for peace J Your questions challenge me to think about what we can do, and so I offer some thoughts for your consideration:

1. the need to incorporate a significant paradigm shift towards self-awareness teachings in order for any systemic change to occur – Agreed.  It is truly unfortunate that our current Western Education System does not teach the most important things in life: social intelligence, how to build relationships, nonviolent communication, how to have difficult/crucial/confrontational conversations, conflict transformation, personal and financial management, servant leadership, understanding our own psychology and training the mind, etc., etc.  The irony is that we do not need to re-invent the wheel on this – there is a lot of excellent intelligence available about what we should be teaching.  What we need to do is clarify and share this Vision and Mission in terms of “their” values (i.e. the values of our target participants).

2. consistency in this area in our public (or private) education system – Agreed.  It will take longer to sway our public education system (it is the nature of bureaucracies and the people in them).  Hence, we must find paths around them (not that we will ignore the formal Education System – we simply must have a multi-pronged approach, spending our resources of time, money, people where we get the biggest pay-off).  The Montessori Method of education provides the best example of peace education that I have found (followed by the Steiner/Waldorf method) – we can work with them to strengthen what they are doing, and they may be most receptive.  The other alternative is to start a new “private-type” system (which has its pros and cons).  Somewhere in the middle ground is an informal system of education, taking advantage of the Internet (online or virtual education system, which www.peace.ca is an example) and Peace Cafés in every community with a peace resource library (books and videos), conversation cafés, mentoring (by peace studies students and retired professors, for example), etc.

3. When do we start developing those courses and running a pilot project? – Many hands make light work.  In other words, as soon as we recruit people (primarily) and money (secondarily).  For people to work on this voluntarily (i.e. without pay) they will have to share the vision and get other value from it (eg. students getting internship experience or academic credit, retirees getting fulfilment and self-actualization, etc.  We must also raise millions of dollars, which I am developing a plan to do.

4. How do we get public funding for a Peace High School in downtown Vancouver ? -  Convincing a Board of Education to fund a Peace High School is possible but may be the longest term prospect.  The real answer is ‘why not make every high school in Vancouver a Peace High School ?’  If we clarify and share our Vision and Mission in terms of “their” values, it is very possible in a shorter term.  I would suggest considering starting with private high schools, and particularly Montessori and Waldorf High Schools (does Vancouver have them?  Toronto and Calgary have Montessori schools within the public school system – so it need not be considered only private).

5. How do we truly teach/ learn in a Peace Education model and still ensure students are able to pass the standardized test mandated by the BC Government?  Montessori schools are the best example of peace education that I can point to.  Their experience is that, not only do Montessori students pass the standardized tests, they excel at them.  Peace Education students will excel in all regards, and this is a major selling point.

6. What programs and research are already out there that might serve to support my interest/ desire to make change?!  Tons.  There is an ocean of information and misinformation out there, the problem is that you can drown in it.  The good news is that you have the Internet to find people and information resources that you need, and you do not have to find and know all of it – the most important thing is for you to develop yourself and model peaceful behaviour, and consider the images at http://www.peace.ca/EVOLVING%20CANADIAN%20CULTURE%20OF%20PEACE%20PROGRAM%202005.ppt   (I have attached a copy of the final image, which is built up in the Powerpoint.)  You can have all the knowledge and programs, but people will not relate if you do not model peace (ref. http://www.peace.ca/beingpeace.htm )

7. any guidance, advice or support you might be able to offer in the journey.  – Save time by asking for specific guidance, advice and support when you need it, of the best people who can provide it.  Meditate.  Look at http://www.peace.ca/topten.htm and particularly read http://www.peace.ca/socialintelligence.htm

8. I would also be thrilled to get involved with some of the tasks that need doing – what are some of the ways that I might get involved in the initiatives you have on the go? – First, you should analyze yourself, identify your highest values (your own psychology, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – in other words, your mind) and your Mission and Vision for your life (at this stage – it will evolve with time and experiences).  Then, you will be in a better position to decide on your path and how working with some of the initiatives that I have on the go might integrate.

I would be very happy to continue our dialogue after you have considered some of this.  Know that you have the power to do whatever you set your mind to, and will never fail – whatever you choose will be right for you at this time.  I will be in Vancouver for the World Peace Forum, and am speaking at the Peace Education part.  I hope that we will have the opportunity to meet in person then. 

Thank you.

Bob Stewart


NEWBUTTONPINK.GIF (519 bytes)A Message to Our Readers (May 15, 2006):

I have been taking a sabbatical for a period of reflection on how I can better serve the Peace Community (by working smarter, not harder J ).  In the process, I have been undergoing a significant personal transformation – a journey that I will be pleased to share with you over the next few months. 

In the process of seeking peace, we are likely to give ourselves anxiety, pain and even depression – your mind can become a war zone.  Stress is the signal that it’s time to question your own thinking.    Seeking peace is how you lose the awareness of peace.  But you can only lose the awareness of it, not the state.  That’s not an option, because peace is what we all are.  Look around you and you will find peace in many ways, if you look hard enough – celebrate them.  The spiritual secret that applies here is this: what you seek, you already are.

The U.N. Culture of Peace Program calls for the transformation of all institutions from a culture of violence to a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.  The first ‘institution’ that must go through this transformation is ourselves.  As Gandhi instructed us, “be the change you seek in the world”.  In a sense, our old selves (our selves raised in a culture of violence and reflecting it) must die in order that our new selves - our selves living a Culture of Peace and Non-violence – may be born.  We must truly be “Renaissance Men and Women”.  I suspect many of you are also labouring with your rebirth.  Each of us has to find the actual experience of peace and calmness on our own. The secret for doing that is to free the mind. When it is free, the mind settles down. It gives up its restlessness and becomes a channel for peace.  As the UNESCO motto proclaims, “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”  This applies to us as well as “them”.

I invite you to join me in this personal transformation.  A major goal over the next period will be to strengthen our section of the www.peace.ca web site on Building Peace at the Individual Level.  I will share with you some of the key books that I am reading, and their highlights.  They include:  

Advanced Reading - click on this link to find highlights of recommended books for the advanced reader

etc. (more to come later)

I fully believe that the people who need the most peace education are peace educators, peace leaders and peacebuilders.  One of our major goals at Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace is to help with the necessary personal transformations – to accelerate the personal growth and wisdom of all peace educators, leaders and builders, by supplying helpful information.  Since everyone is a potential peace educator, leader and builder – this means engaging everyone.  It truly takes an astronomical vision to make a global difference.

I am very grateful that I have found my purpose in life: peace education.  We all have our own unique talents to bring to peace education – I am pleased to bring my unique leadership, management and business talents to bear on this most worthwhile cause.  By teaching peace and wisdom, our students can transform their lives and make a difference teaching peace and wisdom.

Today, start to act as if your influence extends everywhere – you should know that it does.

Happy transformations, and remain centered no matter what happens,

Bob Stewart

==========

THE WISDOM I AM LIVING

By Bob Stewart

Higher Purpose - work for the welfare of the whole world, by significantly reducing the human cost of direct and indirect violence through peace education, raising social intelligence, true wisdom and self actualization throughout the world.

Communion – communicate and develop relationships with everyone else in the world, to notify the world’s farthest reaches of the purpose and intention (above).

Awareness – listen to understand, everything that impinges on the purpose (above).  Meditate on it, adapt, remain flexible, respond accordingly.

Acceptance – There are no enemies.  Understand my values and others’ values, and communicate with myself and others accordingly.  I am a genius and they are also.  Recognize every one as equally important and interdependent.

Creativity – think thoughts never thought before, ‘dance’ in a way never seen before.  Continue to solve the peace ‘problem’ every day, in creative new ways.

Being – obey the universal cycle of rest and activity.  Live a balanced life.  Sleep on it.  Meditate on it.  Develop routines and cycles.  Live the Nature of Peace, and Peace of Nature.

Efficiency – work smarter, not harder.  Prioritize.  Seek value, including profit in what is done.  Benefits must significantly exceed all costs.  Stop doing things that are not significant contributors to the purpose.

Bonding – know that we are all fundamentally the same.  There are no outcasts.  Extend the hand of friendship to all.

Giving – give and receive automatically, without expectation, without hoarding.  Give students of peace your time.

Immortality – pass on your knowledge, experience and talents to others – and become immortal by leaving a legacy of peace education that will keep on giving when you pass on to another plain.  Be remembered.