Upon realising that no one was engaging children as part of the solution to this problem of violence in schools, Eric Dawson developed PeaceFirst to teach children how to create peacemaking strategies to resolve conflicts and promote peace in ways relevant to their daily lives and experiences. Rather than policing violent behaviour, PeaceFirst provides a way for children to learn and live the values of peace and empathy from an early age.
PeaceFirst understands that violence is much more than fighting, guns and gangs. It is entangled in deep-seated societal issues such as racism and homophobia and the best way to prevent violence is to teach peace—in the classroom, the hallways, the lunchroom, the schoolyard, at home and in the neighbourhood. Peace starts with kindness, understanding and respect. PeaceFirst’s goal is for children and adults to work together to create a culture of peace in and beyond their school. When children enlist the help of the adults in their lives to learn, practice and promote peacemaking, everyone gains a safer, more supportive community in which to live.
PeaceFirst’s vision is for children to be able to create and nurture a culture of caring, respect and cooperation, and to leave school prepared to be engaged community members. As these children mature, they will carry peacemaking values with them, replacing violence with peace and intolerance with inclusion. When peacemaking is part of the fabric of every child’s education, children in every community will have the skills to resolve conflicts, work across differences and build a world worthy of their children.
Instances of bullying as well as more acute forms of youth violence are nation-wide epidemics. Studies show that the most effective way to curb violence is early, long-term investment in the social-emotional development of young people. Students who learn psychosocial skills outperform students of equal intelligence who lack these skills. While policymakers focus on standards and testing to improve academic achievement, they overlook a critical factor: Children who do not feel safe do not perform well in school. However, few schools have the resources needed to integrate violence prevention and peacemaking into their academic programme and school culture.
Instead of looking at the children and their violent behaviour as the problem, PeaceFirst works to transform these children into problem solvers with the ability to de-escalate violent behaviour within their own peer group in addition to recognising and combatting it within their greater community. PeaceFirst thereby empowers children with the knowledge and skills to become change agents within society creating a culture of peace both within and beyond the school walls. In addition to this, PeaceFirst teachers are volunteers (e.g. college students, work-study interns)—so youth are leading youth to create a peacemaking culture.
PeaceFirst is designed to change the school climate by building the capacity of the entire school community to improve peacemaking skills and behaviour (e.g. communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution) and reduce peacebreaking behaviour (e.g., verbal and physical fights, disruptions, bullying and bringing weapons to school). At the heart of the programme is an elementary to high school curriculum integrated into the academic framework of the school. Starting at age four, the programme engages children as leaders with adults in supporting roles. In a weekly classroom period, children learn to devise their own peacemaking strategies. The volunteer teachers work in partnership with classroom teachers, modelling PeaceFirst methods that facilitate experiential learning and constructive group processes. Cooperative games and activities help children learn empathy, how to resolve conflicts, and how to work well in teams.
PeaceFirst is especially effective for schools that want to build their long-term capacity to prepare thoughtful, engaged citizens, and with that, achieve improved attendance, test scores, and more positive behaviour. To determine whether the school has a problem that PeaceFirst can help solve, and will be a strong partner, PeaceFirst surveys school staff (using a protocol they developed with Harvard’s School of Education). To achieve true culture change, the principal and at least 85 percent of the teachers must want to adopt the programme. To facilitate adoption, the PeaceFirst programme meets state-mandated requirements for curriculum and school improvement plans. The pre-adoption survey that establishes baseline data on student behaviour, teacher support, school climate, and family involvement is administered at the beginning and end of each year. Change in school climate is seen in improved peacemaking skills and behaviour and reduced peacebreaking incidents and behaviour.
PeaceFirst moves schools from intense support to self-reliance through a “front-loaded” strategy. A full-time site coordinator selected by PeaceFirst and the principal is placed in each school for the first 3.5 years. The coordinator leads a schoolwide assessment and planning process, then supervises the volunteer teachers as they implement the programme in each grade level. The site coordinator also works with a Leadership Team of parents, school staff, and community members. Peacemaking is integrated into everything the school does. PeaceFirst signs, photos, and language build and convey a school-wide culture. In year four, schools start offering the programme independently, aided by ten to twenty hours of PeaceFirst coaching each month. Eric credits PeaceFirst’ success to five factors: It’s universal, whole-school intervention; all students participate from at least elementary to middle school; the curriculum is fun (playing games develops community-building skills); every adult in the school is engaged, from the cafeteria workers to the principal; and, families get involved in their child’s school.
65 semanas atrás Hari Pant disse: Hello, your concept is really very interesting. I was curious to know if you have entered into the Activating Empathy competition. Thanks. sobre Changeshop Peace First. - leia mais >