When I indulged in Galaxy4Peace’s Teach Peace Early program, I discovered something: it was the first time in my life that I saw how Peace Educators asked our students, or “Peace Vibers,” to define peace during the Peace Lab in schools in Nigeria.
During my entire academic path, I had never been required to take a course on making peace, building community, or forgiving an enemy. We are neglecting to teach students the most fundamental and urgent lesson: how to make peace in the world around them. As Colman McCarthy once said, “If we don’t teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence.”
This is part of the reason we teach Peace Education through the Teach Peace Early program in different Peace Lab across schools in Nigeria, or in social gatherings where young people between the ages of 8 – 22 are involved. At the most basic level, to teach peace is to teach that violence does not have to happen. It’s amazing to see hundreds of colleges and universities across the globe now offer degrees in Peace Studies with some universities reporting enrollment rate doubling in the past few years.
At the heart of each program, it is declared that nonviolence, peace, and justice are not utopian dreams, but real and practical ways which humans can live in and affect the world around them. The treasure chest of stories has been opened and, like some reverse Pandora’s Box, the ideals of peacemaking are unleashed into classrooms as students study the examples of Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai and Mahatma Gandhi. From a broader perspective, this academic trend towards peacemaking is part of the widespread awakening, what David Korten calls “The Great Turning”, happening in response to the problems of our time.
For us, the list of prison population, drug use, child hunger, poverty, illiteracy, teen pregnancies, firearms death, recorded rapes, income disparity and the poor quality of schools is no surprise. Violence can never lead to peace and the more we respond with violence, the more violence we create. So teaching peace means dismantling this list and promoting avenues towards investment in education that teaches peace is paramount.
Gandhi is the Thomas Edison of nonviolence, he switched on our understanding of this universal force more than anyone prior and to study and teach peace is to study and teach Gandhi. Schools do not have to create a formal Peace Studies course, but when schools do formalize a peace education program, the door opens wider.
In the “Peace Lab ” in schools where we teach peace, student Peace Vibers learn of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr’s formative. We conduct several teachings on the practice of forgiveness, empathy, tolerance before measuring the effect inner peace has on external circumstances. Peace Education does not shirk away from opposing viewpoints. It gets underneath the surface, going deeper into what it means to be human. Not only because of our goal of making peace a practical and sustainable reality on earth, but because our student Peace Vibers are hungry to study peace.
The impact of Teach Peace Early program in the lives of students can not be over emphasized. In 2018, one of our student Peace Viber’s mother called us to share the impact of the lessons on the son and before she ended the call, she noted that a family friend who noticed the changes in the son as well would love for Galaxy4Peace to bring Teach Peace Early program to her children school.
Same year, one of our Peace Viber addressed an over 300 adult crowd discussing why parents need to invest in education that teaches peace. In 2019, we had a student Peace Viber sharing her understanding of peace in communities and the role of young people like her in promoting peace while participating in a “Community Peace Talk” in Nigeria. “Being part of people promoting peace in Lagos Nigeria and teaching people like me to understand what it means to make peace with all is a great feeling,’’ she told us later.
This and so much more is the reason why we teach peace and invest in education that teaches peace.
We would love to have you join us as a volunteer, parents or as an investor . Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. – by Wine Amanda