Peace: A Fortuitous Endeavor

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Last October, I learned about and experienced an exercise in the U-Theory developed by Otto Scharmer. It’s difficult to explain the U-Theory as it is largely experiential; however, it is defined “firstly as a framework, secondly as a method for leading profound change, and thirdly as a way of being – connecting to the more authentic or higher aspects of our self.”  

February took me on an accreditation visit to a school that had a profound impact upon me.  This school was founded in 1923 by a nun and aims to educate the hearts and minds of its students.  I love this, and what is most impressive is that its mission has not changed in almost 100 years.  In one conversation with one of the Sisters in which I was complimenting the mission, she stated so simply that, “Peace begins in schools.”

Peace begins in schools.

These words return to me often and as an educator, I think we have a profound responsibility in this age of disparity to educate our students for a more peaceful and compassionate world.  

In the spring, a wonderful mentor and leader David Chojnacki, introduced me to the Charter for Compassion, a belief in a compassionate and peaceful world, and I immediately joined the movement.  After engaging in one of their online calls, I was invited to host a Charter Salon, or what I am terming a Peace Salon, a salon that hopes to “open up the door to new ideas, new approaches for our efforts to bring about a peaceful world by fostering a compassionate world.”  I love this idea of coming together to explore ideas on peace.  While I will host a salon in person, I’m also curious about what ideas we have in this digital space.

  • What actions can we take in our lives to foster more peace and compassion?
  • If peace begins in schools, how do we ensure we are meeting this worthy mission?
  • What does education for peace look like?
  • What ideas does this inspire?

As I reflect upon what became a year of inspiration, I attribute it to the U-Theory.  Once I became attuned to “what wanted to happen” I encountered the experiences I needed to affirm a passion, one that I will continue to strive towards as I allow the future to emerge,

2 Replies to “Peace: A Fortuitous Endeavor”

  1. Hi Tara,
    I’m so glad you replied on my blog, which led me to find yours! What a powerful post. Your thoughts have really resonated with me. I have always believed that we have an important responsibility to help our students become global thinkers who help to build a more peaceful world. We do need to take time to consider how we can best make school a place where peace begins.

    If we are going to inspire students to be more peaceful and compassionate, then we need to be living examples of that ourselves. When our students see us doing our best to make a difference in the world, they will be more inspired to do the same. We can help to involve our students in initiatives to help those in need. For example, our school recently did a drive to collect backpacks and school supplies for Syrian refugees, and it was great to see the students enthusiasm and desire to help. In the past, they’ve also raised funds for the Philippines, Nepal, and other areas of need.

    As far as instruction goes, I feel that literature is a powerful way to inspire empathy, understanding, tolerance, and compassion. A couple years ago, I read a book called, The Psychology of Fiction, which emphasized that fiction helps us to develop greater empathy. When we read, we enter a dreamlike state where we can, in essence, live and learn from our experiences within the text. When teachers read aloud great books and discuss them with students, we can help them draw out those messages of tolerance, kindness, compassion, and peace. We can help them make connections to the world around them and inspire them to broaden their perspective.

    Last year, our 8th graders (including my son) were assigned a project in which they had to choose a world issue to research and present. They were asked to find advocacy groups which are doing something about that issue and to determine ways that others can help. I thought this was a really powerful project, as it helped students get outside the limits of their own surroundings to consider some of the challenges others are facing in the world and how they can help. I think we need more projects like this which help students become passionate about making a difference.

    Thanks for a great post, and a great reminder that above all, we are helping our students to create a more peaceful world.

    1. Thanks for the feedback and for sharing some great things happening at your school. As an English teacher, I love the idea of fiction as a “dream-state” whereby we learn empathy. That inspires so many other thoughts and ideas…cool! I also love the project your 8th graders have to do. What a great idea to merge passion, research and inspire further action. Looking forward to learning more from you.

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