It is time to take a radical look at what kind of schools we need for the 21st Century. I believe that schools should be places where pupils learn how to be peaceful and how to help make the world a more peaceful place.
What is a Peaceful School?
The Peaceful Schools Movement has developed the concept of a peaceful school that is peaceful but not boring and where peace is a dynamic force. Our aim is not just to create peaceful institutions, but to bring about social change!
Peace at any price?
Peaceful schools are not all about keeping the peace at any price eg through strict discipline! Peaceful schools are about building positive, peaceful relationships within the school and spreading peace into the local community.
Four levels of peace
Peaceful schools work on four levels: the individual’s inner peace, peaceful relationships, peaceful school communities and peace in the world.
Being at peace
The foundation level for creating a peaceful school is the peacefulness of the individuals within the school. There are too many pupils being bullied, stressed and suffering mental health problems. The aim is to help pupils and all school staff to develop their ability to be at peace through things like yoga and meditation.
There are lots of tried and tested peace-building activities that schools can pick from to suit their needs and interests. ‘Peacemakers’ in Birmingham are leading the way in this. Also, the ‘Peace Mala’ scheme is a great way to build relationships between pupils of different faiths.
The ethos of a school is almost instantly felt when you enter a school and it influences the way everyone in the school behaves. A proven approach to creating a peaceful whole school ethos is the ‘Values-based Education’ approach pioneered by Dr Neil Hawkes.
Peaceful places inside and outside
Organisations like ‘Learning Through Landscapes’ work with schools to help them create peaceful gardens. The Woodheys Primary School in Cheshire is a great example of a peaceful school with wonderful schools grounds. Peaceful rooms within schools can be created to supplement the peace of the school library. Such rooms can be used for therapeutic help for children as well as places where children and teachers can escape from the noise and bustle of the school day. Organisations like ‘A Quiet Place’ in Liverpool are pioneering this.
Taking peace out into the world
School can equip pupils to go out into the community as peace ambassadors. A great example of this is the ‘Freedom Writers’ programme in the States.
To find out more
Check out the resources and information on the Peaceful Schools website
From Anna Lubelska, Coordinator of the Peaceful Schools Movement