Peace Literacy and Teacher Leadership

By |2019-03-04T11:33:29-08:00March 4, 2019|

In his many talks Paul K. Chappell, Peace Literacy Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, often tells the story of how one teacher helped to save his life.

“Teachers have enormous power to shape a student’s life, which I experienced firsthand,” he explains.  “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.”

Now Chappell will be able to share his story and bring the concepts and skillsets of Peace Literacy to a select group of teachers at the 2019 National Teacher Leadership Conference to be held in Orlando, Florida on July 12, 2019.

Hosted by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), this year’s conference embraces the theme of “A Radical Imagination for the Future.”  Conference sponsors include Microsoft and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Chappell’s proposal on “A New Peace Paradigm: Our Human Needs and the Tangles of Trauma” has been accepted and will be featured as part of the category on “Problems of Practice: Social and Emotional Learning for Teachers and Students.” Social and Emotional Learning is currently one of the top critical issues in education today.

NNSTOY is an organization of teacher leaders who seek to transform the teaching profession by supporting policies and practices that advance teacher leadership educator effectiveness, and culture necessary to support great teaching and learning for all students. Partners include the National Education Association Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

One NNSTOY member and Peace Literacy supporter is Colleen Works, 2011 Oregon State Teacher of the Year and Vice Principal of Corvallis High School in Corvallis, Oregon. She has helped to plan the 2018 two-day Peace Literacy workshop for the Corvallis School District and encouraged Chappell’s curriculum on “Understanding the Anatomy of Aggression and Building Skills to Heal Aggression” to be taught to all the seniors throughout the school district. One Corvallis teacher commented, “If every student understood that aggression is a distress response, it would be revolutionary.”

Colleen Works and her team are still in the process of putting together feedback from 420 seniors across the district Some initial highlights on the Peace Literacy healing aggression training include student comments such as:

  • “I can see the way people have stuff under the aggression and that you have to have empathy to really see it and understand it.”
  • “What I thought differently about after this was that people who are jerks are acting that way because of distress.”
  • “I think I get aggressive because my self-worth is challenged by the things stressing me. Having to prove myself to teachers can feel objectifying.”
  • “My aggression is very hostile. I tend to act physically without thinking. I need to learn how to keep myself calm and empathize not only with others but with myself.”
  • “Now that we talked about aggression, I’m able to realize why I and other people get so aggressive. We aren’t being aggressive because we intentionally want to hurt someone, we ourselves are hurting. We are feeling sad, attacked, or afraid when the only way we react is by getting aggressive. So next time I’m going to show empathy to them and myself.”

At Corvallis High School, Peace Literacy concepts on aggression and other relational issues are being integrated in the Senior Seminar required of every senior, as well as into the first year “Frosh Success” class, and into student behavioral support systems. Oregon State University Professor Sharyn Clough, our Peace Literacy Curriculum Coordinator who is building a Peace Literacy network linking the university and the Corvallis School District that can be used as a model across the nation, said, “This is a significant way Peace Literacy can help with the social and emotional learning that needs to take place not only in our schools but also throughout our entire culture.”

“Bringing the message of Peace Literacy to the National Teacher Leadership Conference and to the National Network of State Teachers of the Year is a great next step for both Peace Literacy and the field of education with its many challenges,” Clough explained.  ”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 for the classroom, the community, and our entire world.”


For more information on Peace Literacy, visit peaceliteracy.org.

For more information on the curriculum for “Understanding the Anatomy of Aggression and Building Skills to Heal Aggression,” contact Oregon State Professor Sharyn Clough at  Sharyn.Clough@oregonstate.edu.