Brave Is

“The refusal to hate is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of human experience”

I had been told that there is a group of fifth grade girls at the Jerusalem School that gathers most days during the lunch break to do peace-related things: they draw pictures, put on dramas, recite poems, write and perform songs, and have lively discussions about whether or not they themselves are peace heroes – like the ones they are studying. Apparently this little get-together has been going on for some time, and this week I was invited to join them during lunch to see what it is all about. Continue reading “Brave Is”

Where There is Hope

“True change begins with the strong, beautiful, broken individuals in a nation”

These days it is easy to fall prey to a growing sense of despair – I’m almost afraid to read the news, afraid to hear of the latest development, be it locally or abroad, that is guaranteed to increase the rift between peoples, obscuring the inviolability of our shared humanity. While I was feeling increasingly helpless and hopeless, it was the students participating in our pilot program who reminded me that despair is, in itself, a kind of illusion – a willed forgetfulness. For isn’t it fundamentally true that so long as there is even one person working to heal the wounds of his or her fellow human beings, there is still hope – a light shining in the darkness, robbing the darkness of its killing power? Continue reading “Where There is Hope”

Communities of Inclusivity

To be included –to belong–to be part of–to share life with– these are the experiences that will leave their indelible mark on the students. So it is no small thing to stop and ask ourselves: What kind of communities are we building in our schools?

The other day I tried to remember what I learned in 3rd grade, and I couldn’t think of a single thing. What I did remember, however, was how my friends and I formed a little “pack” (we called it) and did everything together – in school and out – so that I never felt friendless or alone; I remembered how my teacher would give each of us a big bear hug each morning, squeezing the living daylights out of us in an embrace we wouldn’t have exchanged for anything in the world; and I remembered how another teacher cried when the class was so out of control, we missed the siren that commemorated victims of the Holocaust (and how, for the first time, I felt the full impact of what it means to bear communal responsibility for less-than-ideal behavior). If I were to take time to think through 4th, 5th, and 6th grade, I suspect the pattern would be the same: I would remember random events involving friends, students, and teachers; I would remember that I generally enjoyed the whole experience; but I wouldn’t remember anything at all about what I learned in Math, Language Arts, or PE.

I think that, as kids, we are much more shaped by the social environment at our school than by any information we learn in class. Continue reading “Communities of Inclusivity”

Guest Post: Joccoa and Mel on a Year With the Peace Heroes

“It soon becomes clear that no one particular type of person or characteristic is needed to be a hero for peace – any one of us can make a difference in the world”

It is my great privilege to hand this post to Mel and Joccoa, mother and daughter who have been using the Peace Heroes Curriculum in their homeschooling program for over a year now (feel free to read this blog post for more about their very creative ideas). It begins with Joccoa’s lovely poem, featured artistically in her picture above, followed by some of her thoughts, and ends with some reflections from Mel.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Joccoa and Mel on a Year With the Peace Heroes”

Flagging History

To re-imagine a country’s flag is an incredibly poignant exercise – it brings the story behind the history to life in a visual and visceral way

To say that this is the first year the Curriculum is being piloted outside of Jerusalem School is not exactly true. In actual fact, the Curriculum began its venture into the wide world a little over a year ago, when Mel and Joccoa decided to add it to their homeschooling program, as an experiment. Mel is a trained teacher from Australia who now lives in Kenya; Joccoa is Mel’s daughter and has just begun her adventures in sixth grade. Peace Heroes was only supposed to be a short-lived addition to Joccoa’s homeschool program in fifth grade, but Mel soon realized that she would have to find a way to teach it for the duration of the year when Joccoa decided it was one of her favorite subjects. By the time Joccoa finishes sixth grade, she will have covered an extensive number of heroes!

What makes Mel and Joccoa’s experience with the Curriculum so unique is the incredibly creative way they have chosen to engage with it, Continue reading “Flagging History”