At the panel discussion event, “Glimmers of Hope: Peace Education Around the Globe,” which we co-hosted with the the University of San Francisco (USF) Department of Education, we invited attendees to share reflections on how the themes of the event resonated with their lives and work. The event was held at USF on March 11, 2016. Photos by Kingmond Young.
"Without hope I would have stopped being an educator years ago. Hope sustains my humanity and I am encouraged to continue to grow in my role as an educator by having meaningful dialogues with educational revolutionaries who are trying to transform a system of oppression into a system of opportunity for all our children throughout the world today. . . . The only way to transform our times is to have radical empathy for other individuals. . . . Radical empathy is the ability to truly put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and imagine what it might feel like to know their struggles and their joys. If we can do this our hearts will open. Teachers, especially in today’s educational climate, must become fierce advocates for their students, creating an environment in which young people can thrive and feel hopeful about their future. I want to be the kind of teacher and coach of teachers who will always empathizes with her students, and who can empower them to feel excited about learning and believe in their own unique talents."
- Mary Ann Malkos is an educator, having worked primarily in Elementary and Middle Schools throughout the Bay Area. She is a trained Reading Specialist, currently working as a Coach/Trainer for teachers in the Milpitas Unified School District.
"Once people begin to reimagine the world they want to live in, filling it with relationships, collaboration, solidarity, love, peace, joy, and justice, education follows suit and becomes transformative -- no longer acting as a tool of domination and oppression but one of liberation and freedom. As a high school social science teacher, I see the direct result that the current oppressive policies (high stakes testing, punitive discipline, privatization of curriculum and overcrowding) have on my students of color, of low socioeconomic status, with special needs, and those learning English. Although broader educational reforms have attempted to address this problem, only critical peace education acts as a glimmer of hope within the current, structurally violent educational system. Critical peace education is truly transformative as it focuses on addressing specific structural inequities, bringing agency to the students affected by them. It gives power to the disempowered and refuses to punish students for something they cannot control, like the color of their skin or how much money their parents have."
- Andrea Struve is in the international and multicultural education doctoral program at the University of San Francisco School of Education, and is currently a high school history teacher.
"If human minds can organize with clinical efficiency to wage war and violence, they certainly can and should organize effectively to wage peace with education as a key 'weapon' for liberating minds. This raises the question: How can we create cultures of peace through education? First off, what if we transform the current narrative of education driven by underlying distorted philosophies -- the root of the problem -- based on economic and political interests and replace them with humanistic philosophies focused on the wellbeing, happiness, and development of the individual student? From this foundation, what if society starts to genuinely value education and elevate/respect the craft of teaching with generous resources and quality training to cultivate capable student-centered teachers? What if the formal/informal curriculum was focused on cultivating peaceful attitudes and capacities among students, such as empathy, intercultural communication, and courage, in addition to regular subject matter? Finally, what if we create new measurements beyond grades and test scores to gauge the development of each student? These are just but a few imaginative reflections. I am very hopeful we can co-create a more peaceful world for us and future generations through united efforts for educational activism and entrepreneurship."
- Mahi Takazawa is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education’s organization and leadership program at the University of San Francisco. His research focuses on Soka education and education for global citizenship. Takazawa is a former Education Fellow of the Ikeda Center.
"Peace education can take many forms and can be applied in multiple contexts, and even though it seems broad, the underlying need for it feels almost universal. In seeing that it can be applied in such different contexts--such as in war zones to school settings--I reflected on what peace education means at the core and how the core values of it can be taken and applied, and furthermore, why they are so necessary. Our world is fraught with violence, both direct and subtle. The mentalities behind this violence come from historical events and power relations. These dynamics become part of our culture, so much that there comes a point where we come to see it as normal. In my learning of what peace education is, it seems clear to me that at the core this pedagogy attempts to create a cultural shift and an unlearning of the mentalities that perpetuate violence. Whether it’s through rethinking how public schools treat students dealing with poverty or how two groups that have been tangled in conflict learn to humanize each other, peace education works to transform cultures of violence within these contexts. Its application varies depending on the conditions of who is being worked with, and this makes it applicable in so many contexts."
- Clara Dutton will graduate with a masters degree in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco in 2017. She is a San Framcisco native and aspires to use theater and dance as tools for social justice.