Lesson-based guide to the concepts of peace research for you and for others specifically designed for youth.
5 Spheres of Peace: Memories of Peace: Remembering Right Relationships
This activity was designed to help youth connect their knowledge of peace to a concrete, action-oriented definition that is based upon the development of healthy, caring, interdependent and “right relationships.” During this session, students use personal memories of peace to begin defining peace. The Earth Charter’s definition of peace is introduced, and students are challenged to think about peace as “right relationships” with oneself, other persons, other cultures, and other life. The National Peace Academy’s “5 Spheres of Peace” framework helps students identify spheres within our lives that need peacebuilding: the personal, social, political, institutional, and ecological. Although some of these concepts may be new, such as “institutional” or “political” relationships, this activity nurtures the idea that many different relationships beyond the walls of home and school play a role in our lives. Students identify the relationships involved in their memory of peace, and they create a web of peace images that demonstrates how peace can be experienced within each of these five spheres.
Personal Peace 1: Jump Journal: Self-Reflection and Personal Change
“Jump Journal” is an activity based on the Buddhist Six-Times Practice. This practice is designed to help individuals reflect on their values and actions throughout their day. Buddhists who use this practice engage in self-reflection six times a day, thinking about whether or not their actions are living in accordance with their principles. During each reflection they have a different principle to reflect upon, some of these values include honoring life or being truthful. This practice has been modified for this activity, to help students “jump” towards becoming the person they want to be through self-reflection and active decision-making. Each day students set personal goals or identify a value they want to work toward during the day. Students are given a short reflection period three times during the school day where they can reflect on their actions and be empowered to make changes to meet their personal goals. The small positive changes students make to their behaviors day after day will lead toward deeper personal transformation over time.
Personal Peace 2: Mandala Mindfulness
Sustaining personal peace is an ongoing process of being mindful of our thoughts and feelings and consciously acting upon these feelings in ways that uphold our values and relationships. The practices of self-reflection and mindfulness are essential skills in building personal peace. Creating a mandala can be an excellent tool for students to begin thinking about and expressing their thoughts and feelings in a safe and contained space. Mandalas have been used for thousands of years in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions as meditational tools to clear the mind. They have also been used in many therapeutic settings to help individuals uncover feelings that need to be expressed. The process of creating a mandala can help students become more conscious of their inner thoughts. This awareness can facilitate reflection on how the individual chooses to act upon these thoughts and feelings. This process can be very empowering, helping young people make positive changes in their lives through building clarity and consciousness.
Social Peace 1: Thinking About Conflict
Peace in the social sphere can be understood in the context of relationships. Often students can tell you what they think social peace looks like: helping someone in need, hugging your sister or brother, spending time with someone special. Many students have a difficult time envisioning how peace can be built in the midst of conflict. Conflict in the typical classroom usually leads to a disciplinary action by an authority figure. These actions have the potential to stunt students’ problem-solving capacities, teaching them to rely on authority figures or institutions to change circumstances for them. When students learn practices for resolving conflicts they build skills to listen to one another, resolve differences peacefully, and hopefully over time transform conflict rather than only resolve it. One way to support the development of these skills is through the establishment of a peace place within the classroom. A peace place, where students can go to openly problem-solve, sets the tone for open communication and collaboration rather than competition or domination. A quiet corner with two chairs and a table is ideal. Students can decorate the corner with posters of the simple three-step conflict resolution process introduced in this lesson. If you cannot provide a peace place within the classroom, reviewing the conflict resolution steps presented here though the follow-up activities will reinforce these concepts and empower students to resolve conflicts peacefully inside and beyond the classroom walls.
Social Peace 2: Active Listening - Hear my Voice, Be my Voice
Many conflicts arise over miscommunication, not understanding someone else’s perspective, feelings, or intentions. Miscommunication can occur for many different reasons. Sometimes we have too many external or internal distractions to be a good listener. Sometimes we do not clarify what others say and misinterpret their intentions. Often we are not aware of how our statements impact the feelings of those around us. The process of active listening can be an important tool helping students communicate their wants, needs, and opinions effectively with others. Differences in opinions can become a catalyst for deepening their relationships rather than creating conflict. There are many different ways to practice active listening. Two essential steps are taking turns while listening or speaking and clarifying what others have said. The active listening game described in this lesson gives students the opportunity to practice active listening skills in a non-confrontational environment. This practice can strengthen these skills for use in everyday communication as well as during the conflict resolution process.
Political Peace 1: Models of Engaging in Political Discourse: Debate
Political experiences during adolescents can help prepare students to take part in the political sphere as adults. In preparation for joining the larger societal political discourse, youth need ample experiences to explore their personal values and political opinions, as well as analyze the different methods used to engage in political discourse. Understanding the different social pur- poses, outcomes, benefits and deficits of models of political dialogue can nurture an awareness of how and why these models of discourse are used. Given the opportunity, youth can be a powerful voice of change and creative problem-solving within schools and communities.
The two activities for youth included within the Political Sphere will give students the opportunity to explore: 1) How do individuals form political opinions? Why do they hold on so tightly to their political ideals? 2) What are different methods of entering political discourse? Do all of these methods serve the same purposes? What skills within these methods can be used to help build peace within families, communities, and nations?
Political Peace 2: Models of Engaging in Political Discourse: Dialogue & Consensus Building
The activities provided within the political sphere of peacebuilding introduce youth to different models of political discourse and facilitate inquiry into how political opinions are formed. As students engage in these vastly different models of political discourse of debate, dialogue and consensus building, they will reflect on the benefits and deficits of these models. Students will think about what purposes these models serve.
This activity is an introduction to two important political processes: dialogue and consensus building. Both are used to resolve political conflict. Dialogue is intentionally used to explore the motivations, values, and perspectives or political positions of individuals within a group. Consensus building is a process used to find solutions to a conflict that meets the basic needs of all group members. Each group member has control over the final outcome. This model stands in stark contrast to voting or debate where one side wins out over the other. Dialogue used before consensus building can help facilitate the group consensus process as the group begins brainstorming solutions with a clear understanding of the needs and values of each group member. Providing youth with the opportunities to engage in political discourse and reflect on these processes will nurture a deeper understanding of how they can utilize these skills to build peace when engaged in political conflict.
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