Recently, I joined an International Conference on Empathy Education and Preventing Bullying in Schools. It was organized by Move This World, Inc., “a global nonprofit that uses creative expression as a vehicle to transform conflict, violence and bullying in communities”. On this three-day conference, many ideas and campaigns on Anti-Bullying were discussed and the participants were able to learn how to integrate peace and empathy education in the different core subjects and lesson plans. I personally learned a lot and get to appreciate that as teachers/educators, we need to be able to reach to our students and understand them.
PEACE COMES FROM WITHIN.
As the cliche goes, we cannot give what we don’t have. That means, we cannot give peace to others if we are not at peace with ourselves first. Empathy is putting oneself in the shoes of others but we cannot do this if we don’t understand and feel this phenomenon yet.
In the aspect of Bullying, some studies reveal that there are “bullies” who were victims of bullying as well. They bully others because their experience continue to haunt them. The feeling of peace and empathy is blocked by the negative or traumatic experiences. Learning to love and learning to live together, two of the four pillars of learning, would be very difficult.
As teachers, we must be able to spot these experiences of our students and process them. As their 2nd parents, we are accountable of their behavior and attitudes as well. It will surely make a difference if we are able to inculcate this value of peace to our students. Teaching and learning will be smoother and easier.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT WAYS TO PRACTICE PEACE.
Erica Rose Jeffrey, Dance Activist and Rotary World Peace Fellow, talked about the Global Perspective of the Use of Arts in Peace Work. She cited examples and demonstrated how arts and creative expressions can be used to build and share empathy with others. According to her, empathy is felt in the body, therefore, if we move, our bodies are actually thinking.
According to a chinese proverb, “A thousand teachers, a thousand methods”. No matter what subject matter or lesson we teach, we can always integrate this value of peace in the teaching and learning process. During the break-out session in the conference, teachers were able to think and apply ideas on how we can integrate peace education in our classes. Examples were through songs, stories, group activities, and charades. The possibilities are endless.
START WITH THE YOUNG.
We all want peace. We all want peace for the sake of our children. In order to do this, the entire community must be involved because children look up to the adults. What they see from us as adults is very crucial to the development of their behavior, especially on how they deal with others. We must be good role models so that in turn, these children will be able to manifest the value and grow up to be at peace with themselves and with others.
The road to peace is long but we can always start to where we are at. Our influence as teachers is huge enough to make the difference.