“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 Teachers’ Society
Peace Literacy: A Skillset for the 21st Century. Peace Literacy is an international movement. The creator of Peace Literacy is Paul K. Chappell, 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. 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 work toward their full potential and a more peaceful world. Chappell serves as Peace Literacy Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and lectures and gives workshops across the United States and internationally.
The Peace Literacy Team: Joining Chappell for educator events in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada were Oregon State University Professor, Phronesis Lab Director, and Peace Literacy Curriculum Coordinator Shari Clough, Corvallis High School Vice-Principal and 2011 Oregon State Teacher of the Year Colleen Works, and middle school teacher Susan Radford who teaches in Everett, Washington and has been developing lesson plans for middle school students based on Chappell’s work.
The Story: Chappell and the Peace Literacy Team gave a one-day Peace Literacy workshop to over 70 participants from the Manitoba Department of Education and Training ICAB (Instruction, Curriculum, and Assessment Branch) and two days of Peace Literacy training to over 280 teachers, students, and administrators from across Canada at the National UNESCO Associated Schools Network Conference at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Chappell also spoke to kindergartners and their fifth grade buddies on empathy and peace.
Canadian Associated Schools Program Network /UNESCO Conference
Ken Klassen, the Executive Director of the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents, introduced Chappell as the keynoter and presenter at the National Associated Schools Program Network (ASPnet) for the annual Canadian Commission UNESCO (CCUNESCO) Conference held at the iconic Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Klassen offered a call to action in a short speech to more than 280 teachers and students on the strength of waging peace and a new kind of literacy:
“We are a unique and rare group – we may be the only group in the world today of almost 300 learners of all ages, from across an entire nation, coming together in an amazing building such as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, to study peace.”
Klassen explained, “In Manitoba today we are in the middle of a province-wide and intersectoral discussion about the meaning of literacy. We all agree that we want fully literate citizens, characterized by self-efficacy and with the capacity to think deeply, to have the language to express those thoughts and the skills necessary to put moral thinking into action for the good of all. Clearly a high level of traditional literacy is critical – being able to read, write and speak articulately. But literacy today goes far beyond this, including as we are about to learn, Peace Literacy.”
Chappell gave two foundational keynotes to explain the framework of Peace Literacy:
- “Understanding and Healing Aggression,” and
- “Understanding the Human Condition: Our Basic Human Needs and the Tangles of Trauma.”
He also presented five Peace Literacy training sessions for educators:
1) Recognizing and Applying the Power of Respect
2) Resolving Conflict/The Power of Calm
3) Building Healthy Communities/ Dehumanization and Rehumanization
4) Peace Literacy in the Middle School Classroom (with Susan Radford)
5) Building Curriculum/Evaluating Success (with Shari Clough)
Susan Radford showed how to teach Plato’s Cave (critical thinking) to 7th graders and Shari Clough discussed new ways to move Peace Literacy into the curriculum.
Commenting on the peace literacy content, Mark Perry, who is Diversity and Respect Lead, Anglophone School District South, New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood, and a coordinator with the Associated Schools Network, said,
“I’m a real critic of professional development workshops; my expectation is that I should be learning something new each time I engage in professional dialogue. I was thrilled with Paul’s workshop because he moved us beyond the rhetorical discourse associated with peace education — his ideas are innovative and thought-provoking. His content, philosophy, and approach provide significant material for Peace Literacy in schools and classrooms.”
He concluded, “Paul offers us a practical application of language, a way to be deliberate in our teaching the strategies for Peace Literacy.”
Beverley Toews, UNESCO Associated Schools Network Coordinator at Olds High School in Olds Alberta, felt inspired to order all of Paul’s books for staff summer reading, printed out the study guides, and shared insights she learned in a grade 12 Social Studies class. “I also intend to incorporate a lot of the information in a homework/review class that I supervise.”
Comments after the conference included:
“I was at the UNESCO conference last week and I just wanted to say again how much I have been impacted by your talks.”
“I haven’t stopped talking about Peace Literacy after listening to your message for two days.”
“Your message will transform classrooms across the country.”
Pleased with the excitement and support for Peace Literacy curriculum shown by the conference participants, Shari Clough commented, “We will look back and be able to see the CCUNESCO conference as a transformative moment.”
Looking into the future, Estelle Lamoureux, Vice President of the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties, and retired principal of Collège Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau, a French immersion high school, who accompanied Paul to the kindergarten and also attended the two-day UNESCO workshop, said, “The current and subsequent generation of students are waiting for us. There is simply too much at stake if we, as educators, do not meet our responsibilities as global citizens in providing them an authentic education embedded with the values of Peace Literacy, not only in our curricula but in our relationship-building practices within our school communities. To become united in peace, everyone needs to be included.
Lamoureux’s goal is “to envision a school community where Peace Literacy is the fabric of what we do.”
Chappell returns to Manitoba in November 2018 to give additional workshops and to participate in the planning to integrate Peace Literacy in schools in other provinces.
For more information on Peace Literacy, visit www.peaceliteracy.org.
With immense gratitude and thanks to the Manitoba Peace Literacy Initiative Partners: Manitoba Department of Education and Training (MET), Manitoba Association of School Superintendents (MASS), Manitoba School Boards Association (MSBA), Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Associated Schools Project Network (UNESCO ASPnet), Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), and Rotary 5550 Peace Partners, and especially to David G. Newman and Brenda Newman for their vision, perseverance, and dedication to Peace Literacy and peace issues. THANK YOU!