by Adam Jacobs
Peace is a very abstract concept and means something different to everyone, so how can we educate for something that doesn't have a universal definition? We break down peace into two definable concepts: 1) stopping violence and 2) establishing a space where violence doesn't have to happen.
In fact there is an academic field of peace education (yes, that is something that exists...at least I hope so, I have a Masters Degree in it!). The founders of that field explain that there are two types of peace: Negative peace and Positive peace. Negative peace is stopping a fight, ending a war, and generally putting a cessation to violence.
Positive peace is establishing a space where the necessary tools are in place so that alternatives to violence are the norm, rather than the exception.
At Kids Creative, we call these Reactive and Proactive peace. Instead of always reacting to violence, we want to establish a community where we proactively seek out peace for all participants, staff and parents. We do this through staff training, key rules, considering all aspects of our environment, and creating guidelines for how participants should interact with each other.
One example of a Proactive Peace rule is "No fake teasing". Fake teasing means that the person who feels that they are being teased has the power to tell the other person/people that they don't like what was said or how it was said, we give them the tools and space to speak about it and work out their conflict, and we work with them to identify ways to avoid this conflict in the future.
There are many ways to establish peace in our programs, and while it is not an easy task, it is essential for the long haul.