Peace Literacy: Professional Development both Practical and Visionary

By |2018-08-02T05:21:22-07:00July 31, 2018|

“Peace Literacy should be taught in the schools. The world would not be as messy.” – Rick Leib, teacher in the Communities program and junior varsity basketball coach at Oshkosh North High School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

“In a room full of students, teachers and school leaders, Paul inspired all of us with his passionate message about Peace Literacy. I believe everyone should hear this message. It is really a new frame for teaching about educating people to be good citizens and live together in a peaceful manner.” – Brahim Ould Baba, Manitoba Teacher’s Society, Manitoba, Canada

“I came back to Maine feeling empowered to teach Peace Literacy in a way that is practical, that is grounded in fundamental truths of human behavior, and that is appropriate to a public school setting. Knowing, living, and teaching Peace Literacy is indeed the crucial work of our time….” –Kim Cowperthwaite, middle school teacher, Freeport, Maine

“Our entire room of 45 adults listened to Chappell’s 90-minute presentation totally enthralled. Paul speaks from the heart, and his message speaks to archetypal mindsets of what it means to be human. He clearly explained how we can better understand ourselves and others, in order to communicate and live more peacefully, inside and out.” –Whitney Ingersoll, director of admission at Santa Barbara Middle School.

“Staff left the workshop energized and enthused. 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.” – Colleen Works, Vice Principal of Corvallis High School and Oregon 2011 Teacher of the Year

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Now an international movement, the skillset of Peace Literacy is both practical and visionary. Created by Paul K. Chappell, NAPF Peace Literacy Director, a multi-racial West Point graduate, former army captain and Iraq war veteran who grew up in a violent household and struggled with trauma throughout his school years. Growing up as a racial outcast in Alabama, the son of a half black and half white father and a Korean mother, Chappell has worked through the trauma of racism and mistrust to construct a new paradigm for a peaceful world.

Realizing that humanity is facing new challenges that require us to become as well-trained in waging peace as soldiers are in waging war, he created Peace Literacy to help students and adults from various backgrounds (including educators!) work towards their full potential and a more peaceful world. Peace Literacy frames peace not merely as a goal but as a practical skill-set that allows us to increase realistic peace in our lives, communities, nations, and the world. Peace Literacy also helps us to fully develop our human capacity such as empathy, conscience, and reason.

“Our understanding of peace is only as good as our understanding of the human condition,” says Chappell. Peace Literacy provides a realistic and empowering framework for understanding what it means to be human, the root causes of violence, the nature of peace, and the anatomy of trauma, including childhood trauma, racial trauma, and war trauma.

In a world where so many proposed solutions merely address surface symptoms, Peace Literacy teaches us how to create solutions that heal the root causes of our human problems. “The wellbeing of our communities and the world will depend on humanity moving from preliteracy in peace to Peace Literacy, and every bit helps.”

For those in education, Chappell offers professional development that includes the following topics:

  • Understanding the Human Condition: Our Basic Human Needs and the Tangles of Trauma
  • Understanding the Anatomy of Aggression and Building Skills to Heal Aggression
  • Recognizing and Applying the Power of Respect
  • Resolving Conflict/The Power of Calm
  • Teaching Tools to Discern Truth from Untruth
  • Building Strong Communities/Building a Culture of Trust
  • Understanding Dehumanization and Rehumanization
  • Teaching Good Decision-making & Taking Effective Actions
  • Learning to Navigate a Technologically Complex World
    • Understanding the Allure of “Electric Light” and Social Media, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence
    • Understanding the Need for a New Ethical and Conceptual Framework So That We Can Responsibly Use these Emerging Technologies

Actively supporting the Peace Literacy initiative are Curriculum Coordinator, Sharyn Clough, philosophy professor at Oregon State University and director of the Phronesis Lab: Experiments in Engaged Ethics, and Curriculum Developer Susan Radford, who is a public middle school teacher in Everett, Washington with more than 24 years of experience.

Professor Clough said, “On the last day of the Corvallis School District 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 the energy and commitment, marveling at the ease in which Peace Literacy as a concept had slipped into their lexicon, and informed their pedagogy in new and exciting ways.”

Clough added, “Kids need to learn peace in a sustained fashion – in the same way that they are taught to read and write There are already a number of amazing educators around the US and Canada working on incorporating Chappell’s Peace Literacy in the classroom.”

Susan Radford, who teaches many students who qualify for free lunch programs, wrote, “My students are not just growing academically, they are evolving as human beings. Paul Chappell’s material encourages students to think critically about metaphors on persistence, leadership and world peace, thus allowing them to apply what they have learned to their own lives. His material is helping the students of today become the leaders of tomorrow.”

For more information on how to bring Peace Literacy to your school, visit or email the NAPF Peace Literacy Coordinator Jo Ann Deck at