The Heart of the Matter

In learning about the peace heroes, students learn about what it means to be human, first. Yes, they learn history in the process; they learn some geography; they learn about key issues affecting people around the world. But the primary learning happens on a different level altogether. And that’s what makes all the difference

“History holds the potential, only partly realized, of humanizing us in ways offered by few other areas in the school curriculum” [1]

Someone recently asked me some very poignant questions about the way in which the Curriculum engages with today’s accepted historical method of inquiry. The conversation, though fascinating and insightful, made me realize how important it is to set down expectations about what the Curriculum is – and what it isn’t. The purpose of the Curriculum is not historical inquiry. Rather, the Curriculum aims to develop students’ ability to take historical and current narratives and find ways to connect these to their own life-circumstances in a way that inspires them to step out and take responsibility for the realities around them. In other words, it’s not about gathering and analyzing information, but about transformation – on a personal, communal, and even global level. More important than the historical details are the values that will hopefully be remembered and applied. Continue reading “The Heart of the Matter”

The Children’s March

One little boy said to his father: “Daddy, I don’t want to disobey you, but I have made my pledge. If you try to keep me home, I will sneak off. If you think I deserve to be punished for that, I’ll just have to take the punishment. I’m not doing this only because I want to be free. I’m also doing it because I want freedom for you and Mama, and I want it to come before you die”

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, which was celebrated on January 16, I am posting an excerpt from the Peace Heroes Curriculum that tells the story of the Children’s March, which was one of the more unusual campaigns led by Dr. King in his fight for justice and freedom for all.


In the early 1960s, Birmingham, Alabama was known as the most segregated city in the South. Even though Federal Law had rendered Jim Crow illegal, Birmingham found ways to continue practicing segregation. But when civil rights activists challenged the city’s segregation laws, violence against blacks became a matter of course. Between 1957 and 1963, 18 bombs were set off against black targets, earning the city the nickname of “Bombingham.” And though some of the bombs were lethal, no one was ever arrested in connection with them, or for any of the other acts of violence committed against black people during those years.

As the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum across the South, the black community in Birmingham decided that it, too, had had enough; the people were simply “tired of the assaults on their dignity and their freedom, and ready to demand justice” (Hunter-Gault). Continue reading “The Children’s March”

When Lives Collide

I couldn’t help thinking, as she held me tight, that what goes around comes around, often in the most beautiful and unexpected ways

A week ago, Liberian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee arrived in Israel for a whirlwind two-day visit. She was invited to attend the grand finale of an event organized by Women Wage Peace, which had begun on October 4 with a group of Israeli and Palestinian women who were slowly marching from the north of the country down to Jerusalem, where they planned to hand the Prime Minister a letter demanding an end to the conflict. Their inspiration was the women’s peace movement in Liberia that had brought down that country’s dictator in 2003.  It was, therefore, in her capacity as a woman, a peace activist, and a Nobel laureate that Leymah was invited to attend this event and give the keynote addresses in a variety of settings on the final days of the march. Continue reading “When Lives Collide”

Guest Post: On Being Loved and Wanted

“Of all the inspiring, motivating individuals we learn from, I am delighted that the simplest notion of sharing the belovedness of another human being is what consistently made a sustaining impact”

Once again, it is my great privilege to hand this post over to one of the Curriculum’s most seasoned teachers. For three years in a row, Elise taught Peace Heroes to her third grade classes at the Jerusalem School in Beit Hanina. What follows are some of her reflections on this experience.

“Miss Elise, I am sick,” Aseel raised her hand to share.

“Oh really?” I responded.

“Yes,” she continued in that adorably confident way of hers. “My mom wanted me to stay home this morning but I told her I couldn’t. It’s Wednesday. We have history! And I can’t miss that.”

I just smiled, happy my little Aseel loved history so much and secretly hoping her sickness wasn’t contagious!

Although Aseel’s extreme enthusiasm for our peace history class made me smile, it didn’t surprise me. Continue reading “Guest Post: On Being Loved and Wanted”