TED Conversations

Della Palacios

Educational Consultant, Trainer and Teacher, SensAble Learning, LLC

TEDCRED 30+

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Instead of, "No bullying," let's shift the focus in schools to Peace. Let us teach peace explicitly in every school.

Watch Jeni Stepanek's TedxTeen Talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru2Wq-6TUzI

In a world where a child's desperate cry for attention makes the evening news on a daily basis, let us show that child another way. Let us teach that child how to solve problems, practice how to be empathetic and resolve conflicts.

Parents and teachers will tell you that teaching a child what TO do is much more impactful than telling the child what NOT to do. So, let's shift the paradigm in schools. Instead of anti-bullying programs, let's begin to teach peace, explicitly and directly.

Peace is a choice."- Mattie J.T. Stepanek
Peace requires... "Action" -Jody Williams

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    May 16 2013: Hi Della,

    The other day a teacher from Virginia named Charlotte Wellen wrote a comment in a conversation I am hosting.
    You can read it here:

    http://www.ted.com/conversations/18204/in_honor_of_teacher_appreciati.html

    She teaches in a special high school, and they address problems between students in a unique way.
    You can read what she says about it in her "third" comment.....and link to the Murray school through her profile.
    It sounds like this school is doing something about teaching "peace".

    Hope you enjoy reading the information.
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    May 16 2013: Hi Della

    I have checked out the links, thanks. I think I am a peace maker. I served in law enforcement with the view of creating and safe and friendly society. I now teach future police recruits to do the same. As such I think, as I have previously stated, peace is subjective and in some way most of us are all contributing to peace making.

    Thanks for the thought provoking discussion.
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    May 15 2013: I agree that most anti-bullying campaigns are a complete waste of time. When a bully is shown the results of bullying it just shows them what is possible. In my experience as a high school teacher I find it much more effective to teach the bullied kids resiliance. There are very few instances of a single bully bullying the masses, whereas I have seen many cases where a single victim is bullied by groups of totally normal kids.
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    May 14 2013: Exploring peace easily integrates into research, social studies, language arts, p.e. etc.

    Also, when I taught, we had some exceptional social workers. One brought two great programs to the school. One was Peace Place. The other was Peer Mediation.

    Peace Place came first.

    There was a Peace Place in every classroom, the lunch room, on the playground, etc. When children had a conflict, they used the Peace Place. It took kids some time to get familiar with it.

    Posters guided their language to frame their feelings so that another with heated feelings could hear them. It used I messages and helped free words that might have otherwise become a punch or a wound.

    Peer Mediation came second.

    Then, he trained peer mediators who wore vests on the playground. If kids could not resolve a problem themselves. Peer mediators stepped in.

    I believe there are some students with great leadership skills who would make wonderful peer mediators, including students who have made poor choices by bullying.
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      May 14 2013: Peer mediation has a very long history in schools- much longer than the programs explicitly designed to to address bullying. Programs to address bullying typically begin, I think, with building a sense of community in school so that in effect kids will feel intrinsically motivated to treat each other well and to stand up for each other and take care of each other when things go wrong.

      I don't think this adds anything to curriculum in the sense people are worrying about. Teachers start working on this with kids as a matter of course even in preschool when they say "Use your words." With the widespread use over the last twenty years of pedagogies in which kids work in groups for much of the school day, teachers work with kids on how to work effectively in that format, to resolve differences, and to make sure everyone is heard and respected. It is part of the job.
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        May 14 2013: I love the idea of unity, respect, caring for one another and standing up for one another. Is that what "no bullying" does, though? I haven't seen its merit and my sense of urgency to help the situation grows as my children are now school age.

        Columbine occurred my first year teaching while I was in Colorado and the situation is not improving.
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          May 14 2013: My point was that the anti-bullying programs I have seen are oriented in this direction. They are not called "Anti-bullying Program." The name is a positive one, like Community Meetings.

          What does the program consist of at your school or in your district?
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    May 14 2013: I worry that by adding things into the curriculum, something has be taken out. Perhaps teach tolerance and let the parents parent.
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      May 14 2013: I revised the question. Curriculum is distracting from the idea. Every school has posters that say, "No bullying," hotlines and some states have required that this be in the curriculum. Instead, peace would be much more effective as a preventative measure.
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    May 16 2013: can we do both?
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      May 16 2013: Sure. My prediction as the focus shifts to peace, the need for focusing on the other will decrease.
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    May 16 2013: your english is very high
  • May 16 2013: sorry but parents should raise children not schools..We are not in Nazi Germany and schools are not Hitlers youth. I know you mean well but think about what you are implying "A state beauracracy should have responsibility in raising children." I want you to take a deep breathe and really contemplate what your saying. We dont want schools to become a communist re-education camp now do we?
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      May 16 2013: This is a Straw Man argument. Exploring the concept of peace instead of implementing "anti-bullying" programs is not the logical equivalent of a communist re-education camp.
      • May 16 2013: Its a slippery slope. You asking the state to assume responsibilities only a parent should have. Plus who's theory of peace are you going to teach?
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          May 16 2013: That's a much more thoughtful response. I'll take time to answer later. In the meantime, watch the videos posted above if time permits you.

          I appreciate what you wrote in your "Idea worth Spreading, "We must embrace ideas of all kinds and be willing to have dialogue. Put emotion aside and think critically."

          Teaching conflict resolution and giving children language necessary to resolve conflict does just this.

          In response your question, I would start with an exploration of peace. I'm going to copy and paste a comment I wrote below since it applies here and I don't expect you to read everything I've written. :) I do not define peace for children. I ask them to define it for me. I have done it many times. I would provide them with a blank piece of paper and the sentence "Peace is" to complete. Children show me that peace is not something present in their world or that they understand it far more deeply than I do. (ie. A fifth grader drew a picture of a child point up and down and it reads, "Peace is something up there or down there but nowhere around me." Then, a kindergarten student produced a masterpiece drawing with play dough and crayons explaining the interconnected nature of peace within.

          Here are three lessons helping children explore the meaning of peace based on the powerful poetry of Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a peacemaker. http://www.mattieonline.com/?page_id=2677
        • May 18 2013: I have to side with Della about the responsibility of school teaching moral values; such as peace and empathy of teaching to the young children. I am sure that you must have the proper attitude and means to teach your children about the values of empathy and morality, but I believe that the percentage of parents with young children in the U. S., over 50% of them probably either don't know what is the value of peace or empathy, or they don't know how, or have no ability, to educate their children about this topic. Also, when you look at many bullies in schools, most of them are likely having highly educated parents who simply don't have time or the urge to educate their own children about moral values.
          In my own experience, I always believe that the schools should at least share part of the responsibility in teaching the spirit of "peace" and empathy. I don't see that this is in conflict with concurrent teaching by their parents, at all.
          Also there are many protective parents, who became overly protective on their children so that they would injure or even kill the "enemy" of their children to "resolve the conflict". So, would it be safer for a third party, such as a trained teacher, to show a better way in the approach by a peaceful resolution?
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      May 20 2013: Wow! There isn't much in this world that is more tribal in a very negative way than a gang of school yard boys aged 9 -12. They really evolve into a wolf-pack rather quickly. Generally, violence is not a direct issue (unless there is lots of violence in the community & home). But once the pecking order is established (and that CAN get violent before the order is imposed), there is a lot of bullying involved in maintaining that tribal pecking order.

      Without some sort of affirmative intervention by compassionate adults, a cycle of bully/intimidation is established. And once established, it is very difficult to break. Although I respect the comments by Mr. Wessman, I really don't think anyone is looking to even come close to approaching the "slippery-slope" that inevitably ends in Communist Reeducation Camps. I think the goal here is to make school a better place for all children. And we focus on that because we want to make learning successful.

      This has been a really good thread, by the way. I wish I'd gotten here sooner.
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    May 15 2013: Hi Della

    What is peace? I do not mean to be difficult but it is a subjective word. My children see life as peaceful when we are not asking them do their chores. My wife thinks it is bliss if I do not snore all night :-).

    I get where you are coming from, but it would be hard. What I like in Australia, NSW to be exact, is they are teaching ethics, which covers fairness and right and wrong. this could be peace - see here http://www.ethics.org.au/ for more information.

    Peace for me is sitting in my 'man cave' on my own and not having to ask the children to be quiet.
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      May 15 2013: Ethics courses would be great. I would get on board with that. Thanks for the link.
      I also just saw an article today about Harvard piloting game simulation teaching empathy. How cool?!!
      http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/05/how-do-you-teach-empathy-harvard-pilots-game-simulation/

      I'm going to copy and paste a comment I wrote below since it applies here and I don't expect you to read everything I've written. :) I do not define peace for children. I ask them to define it for me. I have done it many times. I would provide them with a blank piece of paper and the sentence "Peace is" to complete. Children show me that peace is not something present in their world or that they understand it far more deeply than I do. (ie. A fifth grader drew a picture of a child point up and down and it reads, "Peace is something up there or down there but nowhere around me. Then, a kindergarten student produced a masterpiece drawing with play dough and crayons explaining the interconnected nature of peace within.

      Here are three lessons helping children explore the meaning of peace based on the powerful poetry of Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a peacemaker. http://www.mattieonline.com/?page_id=2677
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    May 14 2013: I see posters with "No bulllying" titles and an anonymous hotline. I've heard of schools doing anti- bullying rallies. I don't see any posters describing peace, steps to peace or the idea of peace. I'd love to see a few. I yearn to see peace brought into the equation. I read The Secret. It's kinda out there. I'm not as far out as it is but the one thing that resonated with me is that the universe doesn't hear you in the negative. When you are yelling "NO bullying" The universe is hearing BULLYING.
    So, let's stay in the preventative and teach peace. I'm not arguing the idea at all. It's the approach.
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      May 14 2013: Don't be sorry. I do not define peace for children. I ask them to define it for me. I have done it many times. I would provide them with a blank piece of paper and the sentence "Peace is" to complete. Children show me that peace is not something present in their world or that they understand it far more deeply than I do. (ie. A fifth grader drew a picture of a child point up and down and it reads, "Peace is something up there or down there but nowhere around me. Then, a kindergarten student produced a masterpiece drawing with play dough and crayons explaining the interconnected nature of peace within.

      Here are three lessons helping children explore the meaning of peace based on the powerful poetry of Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a peacemaker. http://www.mattieonline.com/?page_id=2677
  • May 14 2013: No we should not overload are kids curriculum I agree lets teach peace but please let the students make their choice not the parents or teachers. This is why we have free will they wont develop if they cant make up their own mind on real life issues and problems.
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        May 14 2013: I understand what you are saying but I've found they are able to think quite deeply about the topic. Mattie J.T. Stepanek is the greatest philosopher I know explaining the meaning of peace. (He's a child- a very, very wise child.) www.mattieonline.com

        When children read his poetry and listen to his words, they relate and understand in a magnificent way.