Building Peace Literacy with the Corvallis School District

By |2018-05-02T10:44:30-07:00May 2, 2018|

The first step to a peace literate world is beginning in the classroom. The average American spends twelve years honing literacy skills, moving from the basic alphabet to writing short paragraphs to deeper levels of reading, writing, composition, and critical thinking to allow for civic participation in our ever-growing and complex world.

Why not twelve years of Peace Literacy in the classroom? Through the curriculum, across social studies, history, language arts, math, science, health and many other subjects, the classes would be grounded in peace literacy skills for getting along in complicated and fast-changing times. Study of peace literacy skills would continue for higher grades at deeper levels. This can begin to create a path to a new peace literate society.

Steps are being taken to build a new peace literate community in Corvallis, Oregon with the local school district sending over 30 teachers, administrators, behavioral support staff, and students from three high schools and two middle schools to a peace literacy workshop on April 9 & 10, 2018.

NAPF Peace Literacy Director Paul K. Chappell and Oregon State University Philosophy Professor Sharyn Clough, who also serves as the Curriculum Coordinator for the NAPF Peace Literacy program, led the workshop through a study of essential peace literacy skills. Shelley Moon, Senior Vice President of the Corvallis NAACP, closed out the workshop with the importance of an awakened heart.

Chappell laid the groundwork for the day when he explained how our understanding of peace is only as good as our understanding of the human condition, our basic needs, and the tangles of trauma. The group moved through the seven features of strong communities, understanding and healing aggression (including what Chappell calls “the fires of aggression”), recognizing and applying the power of respect, resolving conflict/the power of calm, strengthening the “muscles” of appreciation and empathy, and learning the six forms of dehumanization and the three forms of rehumanization.

Tony Mosely, M.Ed., Counselor at College Hill High School Alternative Education Program in Corvallis, said, “I have been an educator for over 15 years and I have engaged in many different programs to address student behavior. Peace Literacy is one program that will positively impact our school and our community. I believe the skill set of Peace Literacy will not only transform our lives but the lives of those around us.”

“Staff left the workshop energized and enthused,” reported Colleen Works, Vice Principal of Corvallis High School and Oregon 2011 Teacher of the Year. “Within a week we had revised a component of our student behavior response, and teachers were building new lesson plans to integrate Peace Literacy into their teaching. There was real hope and passion about how teaching skills of peace might transform our work with students and each other.”

Professor Clough, who is also the director of the OSU Phronesis Lab: Experiments in Engaged Ethics, said, “On the last day of the workshop as the teachers and administrators were working in school teams to plan their implementation of Peace Literacy curriculum, I wandered from group to group inspired by their energy and commitment, marveling at the ease with which Peace Literacy as a concept had slipped into their lexicon, and informed their pedagogy in new and exciting ways.”

“Teachers have enormous power to shape a student’s life, which I experienced firsthand,” explained Paul Chappell. “A teacher may be the only person who is a positive influence on a student suffering from trauma, the only example the student has of someone who models skillful listening, deep empathy, genuine respectfulness and high integrity. Peace Literacy helps teachers, students, and people from all walks of life model the healthy behaviors that bring increased respect, empathy, happiness, and self-worth into our homes, schools, workplaces, communities and world.”

Professor Clough reflected, “Peace Literacy is as simple as it is revolutionary. While the need for it is in overwhelming evidence all around us, Peace Literacy provides a clear path forward.”

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