Too many people are experimenting with war and violence. We need more people experimenting with peace and non-violence.
— Margaret Hepworth May 2014

Margaret Hepworth is a Peace Educator; a thought leader in peace and values education. Her drive and commitment for social justice has grown and flourished through her secondary teaching of almost thirty years, and has now culminated in her initiative for students and adults – The Gandhi Experiment. 

Margaret has been Head of Campus (Vice-Principal) at Preshil School, Melbourne, Australia, and holds a Master of Educational Studies. She published her first novel, Clarity in Time, in 2012 through Balboa Press, in which the protagonist comes to understand that to make a difference in this world, you can no longer remain a passive by-stander.

Her latest books, ‘The Gandhi Experiment - Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens’ and ‘Collaborative Debating are now available world wide. 

A member of Initiatives of Change Australia, Creators of Peace, and Education Today, Society Tomorrow (India), Margaret keeps busy helping to run various ‘life developing’ programs within these organisations.

A vibrant presenter, she is well versed in public speaking, having facilitated at conferences and workshops in Australia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and China, running workshops and speaking at assemblies and book groups. Her interesting and varied background includes travelling widely and having lived and taught in Melbourne, Australia, the USA and Nanjing, China.

Above all, her belief in what she is trying to achieve – to help others step forward to make a difference in this world – gives Margaret the drive, passion and commitment required to help achieve more peace in this world through peace education.

Margaret is the recipient of the 2016 Sir John Monash Award for Inspirational Women's Leadership. You can read more about it here.

Margaret currently resides in Melbourne, Australia.

Gandhi and Margaret

The Gandhi Experiment workshop at Tardeo, Universal School, Mumbai

Education Today, Society Tomorrow, IofC India team

“In January 2014, after attending a Making Democracy Real conference in Panchgani, India, I had one singular goal, to get to the Sabarmati Ashram, in Ahmedabad. Traveling by train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, thoughts raced through my head. Whilst everyone else slept, I scribbled notes like a crazy women. New ideas were flowing thick and fast about choices we make in life, about education alternatives, and about me.

At Sabarmati, I was fortunate enough to meditate in the very same place that Gandhiji prayed morning and night. The ideas from the train flourished, consolidated. I was excited! And a new idea floated in through the ether: 'You don’t need to start a new movement. The movement is already out there. You just need to encourage it to grow.'

It was also at Sabarmati that a young Dutch couple wandered in. They looked around, read thoughtfully and carefully, then turned to one of the ashram curators and asked – 'Who was this Gandhi? What does he mean ‘My experiments with truth’'? They had never heard of him. I made a commitment then, that when I returned home I would run my own 'experiments' - peace experiments. Subsequently and over time, I asked many groups of students – 'Tell me about Gandhi.' They could tell me a little – ‘He was a peace-builder,’ ‘He was a social activist,’ ‘We think it was to do with the British,’ 'He wore glasses.’

When I asked those same students to tell me about Hitler – well they could talk for hours. They knew intimate details, family background, quotes, war atrocities, symbolism. I began to ask myself, ‘How is it we seem to know more about the bad stuff and less about the good stuff?’ 

When I returned to India in May to facilitate at the Education Today, Society Tomorrow conference, afterwards I stayed in Delhi and visited the Gandhi Smriti. Meditating on the fresh, green lawn facing the dignified Gandhi memorial, the name of my new educational project, a project that was set to add new life to an ebbing educational world came to me: The Gandhi Experiment: World peace through education.

The Gandhi Experiment is not about the man himself, it is about the essence of his message:  Non-violence as a conscious choice; Satyagraha, my truth or soul-force; and getting off our backsides to take action about those things we know need to change. Where ‘hope in action’ and ‘moving from apathy to action’ become our maxims.

Nelson Mandela told us ‘We all need to rise beyond our own expectations of ourselves.’ This is what The Gandhi Experiment invites us to do.”

Kind Words….

Your approach is fresh, teen-centred, attractive. It also makes a lot of sense. Congratulations on this bid to assist the future, from which many youngsters will learn ways of coping and contributing.  And Gandhi would bless your effort. Congratulations again, and best wishes.
— Rajmohan Gandhi
Margaret Hepworth is a skilled educator who brought our Peace studies and whole school Peace Day assembly to life with her passion and ability to make the topic relevant to the here and now of students’ own lives. Her highly engaging presentations wove a tapestry of historical peace achievements together with practical positive strategies for conflict resolution, anger management and proactive behviours to enrich cooperation, relationships and personal wellbeing.
— Con Pakavakis, Leading teacher and Year 4 Coordinator, Auburn South Primary School
Margaret Hepworth is a passionate and committed educator. She is driven in her work by a strong social conscience which she draws on to encourage students to act in powerful and meaningful ways to leave their mark on the world and have a positive impact. Being a highly effective communicator she sweeps you up with her enthusiasm and inspires students and staff alike to consider the big questions of life.
— JONATHAN WALTER, Principal, Woodleigh School
We had Margaret in to work with a group of disengaged students together with our youth ministry and it went very well. One student ran up to her Care group teacher at the end of the day to tell her it was her best day ever at school.
— Joanne Alford, Deputy Principal, St Francis Xavier College
“Just wanted to express our very warm appreciation for your fascinating presentation as part of our change-­maker panel. Once again it was a session which helped people in a heart and mind stretching way and gave them some glimpses of how they might begin to use their lives in some change-making capacity!”  
— Rob Wood, Initiatives of Change
Marg Hepworth is more than an educator. As a teacher she did much more than just teach. When other teachers would stick to the syllabus as if it were gospel, Marg went above and beyond believing that getting students to think for themselves and follow their passions was the true goal of education. Having classes with her was an opportunity to see the world as a whole and to take an objective look at what was really happening. Overall, classes with Marg felt like a call to arms. At the end of each class we left the room feeling invigorated and inspired to take what we had learnt and apply it — then and there. It is this motivation which has driven me to where I am today, and which continues to urge me forward as I continue to grow myself, and to affect change in the world.
— CAILEAN DOUGLAS, Former Student IT Consultant, Spectre
Much is said about what skills our graduates will need to lead successful lives when they leave school. They will need to be creative thinkers, critical thinkers, collaborative, global citizens, able to adapt to change in a rapidly changing world. The Gandhi Experiment – teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens is a valuable tool for helping to prepare our students for the world they will inherit.
— Polly Flanagan, Principal Shelford Girls School

From Students…

Peace is not necessarily when everyone gets along and there are zero conflicts. Peace, in my perspective, peace is when there is an idea or ambition for a better and less discriminating world. Peace is when people take action for the balance they want to see displayed in the world
Peace is not about how people around the world love each other, not how countries love each other. It is about every single person’s choices and actions. Conflict is not avoidable but it is about making efforts to solve problems in a non-violent way, negotiating, understanding each other to create world peace.
I felt a newfound joy and encouragement after the session. It was very motivational, especially towards the end. It made me realise I can change the world with my ideas and dreams for the world.
I was really unenthusiastic about coming today but as I got into the day I saw a totally new perspective on the day. You were so inspiring and I really feel like I can do something in this world to help.
Action is when someone takes responsibility and decides to begin to make a difference and fight for what they want without helplessly sitting and whining about what is possible, never doing anything about it
I learnt and noted down many quotes and stories. It has influenced me to take action and start with a little action.
Today was a very good session. What I learnt was to not judge but to learn – which was a really good experience. It was amazing and I encourage you to continue educating teenagers with the Gandhi Experiment. Thank you very much.
Today provided insight into circumstances I didn’t know existed. Perspectives and stories strengthened and expanded my previous knowledge
Today was a great experience. I learnt that it is possible to make a change in the world and anyone who has a dream can do it!
Today I learnt: About conflict resolution especially someone like me who has anger issues; I also learnt that you can change the world even with small stuff; And that although it may seem impossible it is always possible; I won’t judge, I will be curious.