Building a culture of peace means that we begin educating our young children on personal, local, national and international issues of conflict and violence. All too often, education and dialogue is reserved for undergraduate, post-graduate and professional circles, ignoring the vast resource of youthful enthusiasm and exploration which high school-aged students can provide. The institutions of government, military, and popular media wage educational campaigns to inundate young people’s lives with violent images and wasteful propaganda. If a culture of peace is what we want to provide for the future generations, then we must begin to explicitly *teach peace*. In the United States, this may mean restructuring the academic calendar to make learning at school more permanent rather than seasonal, and it may mean challenging our system of “accountability” where we are teaching our kids to test rather than teaching them to learn and think.

Furthermore, kids learn by example. So if we want them to learn nonviolence and healthy conflict management, we as a nation must become more vigilant in creating compassionate policies for education, healthcare, foreign countries, immigration, nuclear energy and weapons of mass destruction. As a high school teacher of nonviolence, I tell my students that if they want to know where their priorities are, they should track where they spend their money. Does it go to transportation expenditures, to new clothes or movies, or does it go to charitable causes? Students see where their governments’ priorities are when they learn of the disparity between the defense budget and the education budget.

*Leah C. Wells is Peace Education Coordinator at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.