It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace, and live in peace.
Since 1982, people have celebrated the International Day of Peace on September 21st. The theme for this year is “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future.” Around the world children are working toward creating sustainable peace in a number of ways, both large and small.
Children are advocating for children’s rights. The International Children’s Peace Prize recognizes big accomplishments by young people around the world. This year’s winner is a 13 year old Kesz, from the Philippines. His efforts to improve the rights of street children has made him a “voice for the voiceless” (according to Desmond Tutu, who presented the award). Kesz’s story, and that of the other nominees and winners from previous years, provides inspirational reading for your students, and proof that changing the world is not something that you have to wait until you grow up to do.
Children are making pinwheels. In some cultures, pinwheels represent a turning around of luck, as they spin out the bad luck so that good luck can come in. At the very least, they remind us of innocent pleasures and fun. Picture a school field or park filled with brightly colored pinwheels blowing in the wind. Inside each pinwheel, children write their thoughts about war, peace, and tolerance. The Pinwheels for Peace website has more information, templates, and pictures of projects your students might enjoy.
Students are building bridges of tolerance and understanding as they connect with classrooms around the world using skype, and in programs like Global Dreamers or Global Classroom. It’s hard to hate people when they become friends.
Did you do anything with your students to celebrate Peace Day? Please share your activity with us in comments. And if you end up reading this post after Peace Day is done for this year, don’t worry. It’s not as if we need a special day of the year to teach peace! Each time we help students resolve conflicts with their words instead of fists, each time we model tolerance and embrace differences, each time we help students understand and connect with the world outside our classroom, we are preparing our students to be part of a world where sustainable peace is the norm, not just a wish.
Pedagogies of Peace Education as a Content-Based Subject Among Second Language Learners in Nagasaki, Japan (This particular book has a special place in my heart, as it reflects the lifelong passion of a fellow teacher here in Japan. While Tim Allan’s life was cut short, this book allows his work to continue. It is an incredible resource for teachers working in secondary and tertiary education who are interested in teaching peace. All royalties are being donated to Amnesty International.)
Any other resources to add to this list? If you add them in comments, I’ll edit to include them in this post.
Peace begins with a smile.