“Peace literacy should be taught in schools. The world would not be as messy,” said Rick Leib, teacher in the Communities program and junior varsity basketball coach at Oshkosh North High School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, after a day in which NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell taught three workshops to 150 students from 9th through 12th grade. The students had spent the month of February studying the pilot program for the “waging peace” curriculum.
One of the high school’s themes for the month of February was respect, and the day of Paul’s visit, during a stretch of unseasonably warm weather, was “American Tourist Day,” also honoring the school’s basketball team’s ranking as Number One in the state. Students and teachers celebrated with hats, summer attire, and some even wore shorts. A special day for students who had worked through the curriculum and studied life-changing issues such as “Are we naturally violent?”, “Are there other ways besides the use of force to resolve conflict?”, and “How do we create lasting change and peace?”
The starting point to this new peace literacy curriculum dates back to the 2013 NAPF Summer Workshop where Paul Chappell challenged educator Trish Becket to not only make peace skills a part of her life but also to find a way to authentically share the message of waging peace.
“I had been a teacher for almost twenty years,“ Beckett explained. “So my life skills told me to develop a curriculum.”
She worked over a year to develop a 27-page curriculum based on Paul’s work with reading material from his books Will War Ever End? and The Art of Waging Peace. Beckett connected with Julie Dumke, coordinator of the Communities program at Oshkosh North, who helped to implement the program.
Students also studied day-to-day practical concerns such as “How do we give respect and build trust?”, “How do we handle aggression and conflict?”, and “How do we best communicate with people who think differently than we do?” These are some of the basics of peace literacy.
At a small group discussion before Paul Chappell’s visit, Beckett reported on some of the student dialogue taking place: “If we listen we could solve more problems.” “By listening we plant a seed of change. We model respect.” “Respect is important.”
Paul Chappell reminds us, “The more students who learn Peace Literacy, the healthier our communities, workplaces, country, and planet will be.”
For Trish Beckett, the next step is attending and presenting her waging peace curriculum at the 2017 national conference for the Innovative Schools Network, a way to also expand NAPF’s ’s mission to promote Peace Literacy. After Beckett integrates comments and feedback about the curriculum from Communities/Oshkosh North teachers and students, NAPF will post this new curriculum at peaceliteracy.org.