am a 77-year old veteran from chasing German troops across southern Germany at
the end of WW II. I do not believe war is the answer. It is difficult to be a
peacemaker, function with integrity, and express little support for military
action. How can this position be explained to children?
Respectfully yours, WMS, Palo Alto
Peace is an admirable concept to teach to children.
But that does not mean that it is an easy one.
The very youngest learners are operating in a world
where they understand only concrete examples; they donít grasp abstractions.
As a general guideline, I can offer the following suggestions:
- We accept the various languages and cultures that
surround us. The sounds of other languages may be alien to us, but we
respect other people by not laughing at them or their words. Each month, I
teach my students how to say "good morning," "hello," "thank you," and how
to count in a language that comes from one of the families of students in my
class. When they first hear some of these words, sometimes they laugh. But I
explain that it is not polite to laugh at other peopleís languages.
- We include people from different cultures in our lives.
Only by knowing them can we understand them. And when we understand them,
the line between "us" and "them" begins to disappear, because we realize
that we are all "us".
- We talk of our personal heroes and heroines who struggled
against the masses to wage peace. Whether they are Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr., or Peace Pilgrim, if we can tell our children why they were
important to us, we can impart their values to our youngsters.
- We tell stories. In The Big Book for Peace, edited
by Ann Durrell and Marilyn Sachs, there are more than a dozen poems and
tales that parents and teachers can read to children to elicit their
understanding of what it means to engage in peaceful relationships with
others. The stories become the grounds for discussions with adults about the
differences between peace and war, getting along and fighting, cooperating
All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson.
Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for
individual use. There is a modest charge for printing these columns in
any publication. To receive that permission, contact Jay