Our peace education philosophy, which is based on the concepts "All ideas are good" and "Yes, and...", is more important now than ever. As an inclusive program that enrolls kids from all different walks of life, with different learning needs, socio-economic backgrounds, neighborhoods, etc., the thing that brings everyone together is our positive approach to learning, to listening, to growing and to creating together.
Saying "yes, and..." in a group where there is no teasing or fake teasing, we validate each other in a safe space. We may not always agree, but we challenge ourselves to listen and engage. Our programs are built around sharing creative ideas, validating those ideas and shaping them as a collective into stories, like underwater portals to other dimensions filled with mermaids, giants and half peacock, half jaguar.
On the surface, these stories seem like just "child's play", but they represent something much more. The stories themselves have lessons to teach the audience about conflict and resolution. In addition, what we learn through the creative process is that sharing an idea in a safe space is just the first step. The real work comes from joining together to shape the ideas into a viable presentation. Each student and teacher must identify what matters most to them, what makes them excited, what makes them nervous or uncomfortable, and learn how to negotiate those issues with their classmates.
So in the era of "No", we have to challenge ourselves and our students to say "Yes, and..." and to be positive about new ideas. That is peace education in action.