Peaceful Schools International
01 Mar 2010
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Peaceful Schools International provides support to schools that have declared a commitment to creating and maintaining a culture of peace. PSI has over 300 member schools around the world! In these schools, students, teachers and community members work together to ensure that everyone feels safe, respected and valued.
Some of their specific projects are ‘Peace Camp’ offered to students during school breaks, a province-wide book tour to share the ‘Sam’ series of books on helping children with conflict resolution, and work with schools in Sierra Leone and Pakistan.
PSI offers ‘peace education’ defined by UNICEF as:
‘the process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about the behavior changes that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflict and violence, both overt and structural; to resolve conflict peacefully; and to create conditions conducive to peace, whether at a personal, interpersonal, inter-group, national, or international level.’
The responsibility for creating a global culture of peace is far too lofty a goal for educators alone PSI say: “We can, however, strive to create and sustain a culture of peace within our schools. To do so, we must teach peace. It cannot be achieved by means of a simple recipe or by wishing for it anymore than we can achieve it by writing tough policies or merely mandating it.”
In some schools and school districts, peace education has been incorporated into curricular activities. Social studies, health and language arts are some of the subject areas that are conducive to such integration. In other schools and school districts, peace education activities are introduced in an extracurricular manner. For example, many schools host Peace Festivals, invite guest speakers and hold assemblies with a focus on peace. How peace education occurs is not as important as that it occurs.
“A peaceful school,” say the PSI “is one in which students, staff and parents work together to ensure that everyone feels safe, valued, and respected. Based on responses from educators, students and parents, PSI sees six essential ingredients in creating a peaceful school:
ï Schools use a collaborative approach to decision making and develop a climate of cooperation, support and understanding. For example, students, parents and teachers are all involved in developing a school’s discipline policy.
ï Schools provide curricular and/or extracurricular peace education initiatives. For example, schools might host a peace festival where they share their experiences of peace with parents and the community.
ï Teaching methods stress participation, cooperation, problem solving and respect for differences. Students are encouraged to be open minded and accepting of others who may look different, have different customs or hold beliefs that do not correspond with their own.
ï Student and community centered conflict resolution strategies such as peer mediation are available.
ï The school is involved in community service projects. For example, students may pick up litter in their neighbourhood, fundraise for a specific cause or group, or collect food and clothing to donate.
ï Opportunities for professional development on creating a positive school climate are available to all staff. This may include training in areas such as crisis response, dealing with bullying, peer mediation, anti-racism or anti-sexism programs, or cooperative learning strategies.“
To find out more about the initiative please visit their website:
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