P.E.A.C.E. is a project of the Survival Education Fund
First, we would like to thank all of you who replied to our member survey in the April edition of the News. This valuable information will help us to decide on new directions for our organization. We will be in touch in June with those of you who are considering greater involvement with us.
Presidential Debates Coming
With about 20 serious candidates, the Democratic field will be split into two groups over two nights at both debates. The Miami debate, June 26 and 27, will air on NBC. The Detroit debate is set for July 30 and 31 and will air on CNN. As this newsletter went to press, the DNC had not announced how they will split the field up. 20 Presidential Candidates Answer Peace Questions
With Congress back in session, perhaps the most outstanding peace-related issue before them is a push to get the Senate to join the House in overcoming the President’s veto of Congress’ resolution to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The principal victims of that war have been Yemen’s families and children, who continue to face dire privations, including starvation. Congress needs to reassert its Constitutional right and duty to decide on fundamental issues of war and peace. Especially if you have a Republican Senator, please urge a strong push to override the veto. Tell Congress: Appropriate More for Early Childhood,
Less for Defense
You have heard this from us before, but now is the time that decisions are being made about the Federal appropriations for the fiscal year starting in October. So please, even if your message is just the headline sentence above, tell your Senators and Representatives how you feel about these issues. If you have a good story to tell about the difficulties that inadequate funding puts in the way of the quality of care we can give to the children, that information would help.
This is National Screen-Free Week!
We apologize for sending you this message that you have to read on a screen at this time, but even so it’s worth a reminder that this week, April 29-May 5, is National Screen-Free Week! You can find an abundance of ideas, resources, and encouragement for you and the children and families for whom you care, at www.screenfree.org/resources/. When you’re focused on a screen, you can’t look each other in the eye. You’re apt to miss birdsong. You can’t feel the peace of the children playing nearby.
How do we teach young children to be anti-militarist or anti-war?
By Craig Simpson
One mid-morning day I walked through an urban park in Boston during a school vacation and found an unusual number of children playing outdoors. Younger children were playing with parents in public sandboxes and playgrounds. Other children were free playing among rocks and trees a game of hide and seek with less obvious adult supervision. As I passed closer to their game of running and hiding, I noticed two boys chasing two girls all around seven or eight years old. The two boys carried water pistols and a water gun in a shape of an AK-47. One wore a protective vest like a police SWAT team might use.
Although for years we have debated in early childhood settings whether gun play was appropriate and healthy for children and promoted play as a way of learning and working through ideas involving violence and fantasy children often see in their lives. I was taken aback by this game of hide and seek. This play seemed more about Parkland or Newtown or Virginia Tech or Columbine then it was about a particular war – but it seemed to involve the same dynamics.
Only a day or two later I received a request for an article from War Resisters International who are putting together a handbook about how to promote anti-militarism in youth. They were collecting articles of youth organizers from around the world about how they organize and talk about and demonstrate against war. We see young people who oppose gun violence or stage strikes around climate change, but what are adult groups doing to oppose war and militarism among youth? WRI had many examples of counter recruiting in high schools as well as other forms of education and nonviolent action. WRI was asking us about what is being done with younger children.
This struck me. By the time children are eight or nine they are playing exciting games of hide and seek or violence in schools. When I was growing up in my bubble of white suburbs, it was war or cowboys and Indians. It was quite fun running through fields and over brooks keeping out of sight of my pursuing friends. Militarism is still is a part of our children’s lives. The acceptance of War is still a dominant part of our culture and children are still being immersed in this culture from an early age.
But what about teaching peace and the rejection of violence? When is that learned? As an educator of young children for over 40 years, I spent most of my time teaching children to read and write or about science and mathematics. I had little time to ponder how they learn empathy and caring, or how to think critically, or how to organize against injustice. In my case it was not until I was far removed from childhood and told to serve my country in war that I was confronted by these questions. Why not when I was a young child?
Peace Educators Allied for Children Everywhere is our group. P.E.A.C.E. promotes peace ideas and curriculum and activities that help children think and act for others. We are teachers and parents that promote peace education among the youngest of children — from infants and toddlers to elementary and primary school. The question here is, are we anti-militarist? And are we anti-war? We promote peaceful conflict resolution, peace corners, peace camps. But we also subscribe to a broader definition of peace than the absence of war. For instance, I have taught not only peace education but also gardening, anti-bias education, cultural respect and anti-racism, mindfulness, public service, nature loving, cooking, reading about the world and ourselves, animal caring and tree planting. I’ve also taught the concepts of activism and public demonstration. Young children can easily be part of activism and public dialogue. Sometimes they understand war and peace better than adults.
These thoughts come with a request: “How do we promote Anti-militarism and Anti-war ideas with the young?” I need help thinking about this. How do you do it? How do your children react? What can we do to promote it without being didactic or preaching? How can it be appropriate for the age of children with whom we work? I would like to know your thinking on this. I wish we could have a dialog on this topic, but it is hard to know where it can happen without causing outrage from patriot and pro-military proponents.
Opening Up Peacemaking Capacities
There is no doubt that children enter school with attitudes about people and the world already formed by their experience as infants and toddlers. A truly comprehensive peace education would, in fact, begin with parent education (McGinnis & McGinnis,1981). However, nursery school, kindergarten, and the primary grades are the first contact most children have with the larger society and the possibilities for peacemaking. The ages of 3 to 8 years are therefore crucial in developing peacemaking capacities. These grades will be very significant in how young children perceive strangers and others, how they feel about group and communal relations, and what they learn about relationships, caring, and cooperation. The role of the teacher may be more important at this first stage of the development of peacemakers than at any other.
Betty A. Reardon, in Educating for Global Responsibility —
Teacher-Designed Curricula for Peace Education, K-12.
Betty Reardon is 90 years old this year, and
the Global Campaign for Peace Education is honoring her.
She has been Director of the Peace Education Program
of Teachers College, Columbia University.
For more information visit www.peace-ed-campaign.org.
La La La: A Story of Hope – Book Review
This is a beautiful book written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Jaime Kim, Candlewick Press, 2017.
Sometimes you don’t need many words to tell a story. This book has actually only one word, ‘La’, which is the optimistic sound of singing.
It tells the story of a young girl overcoming loneliness with the help of the moon, her new friend. She starts out her day singing to the trees and plants around her, yet never gets a reply.
With tons of curiosity, she then travels a tad further, and the illustrations are painted to welcome dusk and then night. Exhausted, she takes a nap and her world changes.
I love these illustrations, and children will adore how this spunky girl carries on looking for acceptance as they notice the changes in the colors towards the end of this book.
Kate DiCamillo notes the power of connection: “the story opens doors for us; and we, in turn, open the doors of our hearts to one another.”
Educators and parents are invited at book’s end to use the publisher’s guide and the personal notes from the author and illustrator.
Reviewed by Karen Kosko
Moving Forward: You’re Important to Us!
We are eager for new members, and active members. Spread the word and let us know how you would like to be engaged at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help bring our unique insights and skills to the profession and the public! If you would like to bring P.E.A.C.E.’s perspective to more teachers on the ground working with young children, there are opportunities both in person and online. Email us at email@example.com. Particularly on NAEYC’s HELLO open forum, we have seen opportunities to engage on these issues.
P.E.A.C.E. has been working for you since about 1979 to make this world a better and safer place for our children to grow and thrive. We are managed by the consensus of a group of our most active members, called the Worker Bees, who meet at the NAEYC Annual Conference, and also for four days each year in the late spring at our annual Retreat.
Join firstname.lastname@example.org to follow our members’ recommended actions and share your own! You can request to sign up by e-mail at email@example.com or directly through Google Groups. We hope you will spread the word about the actions by forwarding them on to others.
Since we don’t charge dues, we count on donations from those who are able to continue our work. Look for a PayPal donation option on our website, or mail your check made out to SEF / P.E.A.C.E. to: 55 Frost St. Cambridge MA 02140.