"THAT TECHNOLOGY IS KILLING PEACE." Yr 6s learn Collaborative Debating

An attentive audience

An attentive audience

It seemed an appropriate topic for a debate on the International Day of Peace: "That technology is killing peace." Yet perhaps even more appropriately for that auspicious day, the Year 6s of Auburn South Primary school were learning a new methodology in debating that takes the adversarial nature out of a traditional debate - Collaborative Debating.

 

Speaking on the seriousness of hacking, the Affirmative team discovered they had made a point on which the entire audience stood to agree. After the second speaker for the Affirmative team presented very effective arguments on the deeply destructive effects of cyber-bullying, the Mentor (formerly the adjudicator) posed this question, ‘On this point alone, raised by ‘Kyle’, stand if you agree that cyber-bullying can cause depression and enormous emotional, perhaps even physical, harm.’ The entire audience stood. The entire Co-operative Team also stood. The point had been resoundingly made.

 

This is the point of difference of a Collaborative Debate - debaters are allowed to agree with the opposing team. You are even allowed to show that you disagree on certain points with your own team. Because, you see, you are not aiming to ‘win at all costs’. The aim is to collaboratively solve the problem at hand - even when you come from differing viewpoints. To make the debate constructively useful to your classroom, your school and your community, well beyond the event itself.

 

The Co-operative Team spoke of Instagram - ‘Half of these Instagram users want to promote peace.’ ‘Skype and social media allow people to contact and maintain relationships.’ And from the authorative mouth of a 12 year old, ‘It is your choice to use social media correctly.’ A message an enormous number of adults would do well to listen to. Then this: ‘We are using certain apps to feel safe. They help us fight against crimes we can’t fight against ourselves.’

 

Half- way through the debate, the Mentor paused to ask this question: Is anyone feeling conflicted within themselves right now? A few ‘yeses’ in the room and a chance to explain why. The Mentor proceeded: Has anyone been so persuaded by someone’s argument that they would like to cross the floor right now? Two people from the Affirmative team stood to move to the Co-operative team, a visual impression of the change in their stance on this subject.

 

What happens if the contention can’t be solved in one debate? At the end of the debate the Mentor will ask a series of questions – Has the debate actually thrown up other questions that require further exploration? What are these? Has the debate partially resolved something, but not completely? Are we getting more deeply into the crux of the issue? Then why would we stop there? Let's keep delving. Let's find some solutions.

 

Most importantly, throughout a Collaborative Debate, a minute of mindful, stilled silence allows for new wisdoms and insights to come in to play.  

 

For the Auburn South Primary School Year 6 Collaborative Debate, perhaps the most persuasive moment came when the third speaker for the Co-operative team summarised his teams’ messages by stating: ‘It is not technology that is the problem – it’s the people using it.’ Leaving every person in the room to reflect for themselves, 'What is my role in that?'

 

Congratulations Auburn South Primary Year 6s - your are impressive debaters, persuasive and able to pick up this new shift in thinking and debating in no time! Celebrating the power and effectiveness of collaboration.

 

Margaret Hepworth is the author of Collaborative Debating – a Teachers Manual and The Gandhi Experiment – Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens. Available through Readings Bookshops; Link Educational Supplies; James Bennett.

Margaret is available as a motivational speaker and can train both students and staff in Collaborative Debating. www.thegandhiexperiment.com margaret@margarethepworth.com

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HOW ARE WE GOING TO TEACH OUR TEENAGERS TO BECOME GLOBAL CITIZENS?

ONE AUSTRALIAN TEACHER'S GLOBAL RESPONSE

Every young person knows the world needs to change. Let’s help them do it!

 

Travelling across India in 2015, running my Global Participation – It starts with us! student workshops, I was asked several times: ‘What are you going to do next? What are your next steps moving forward? Where do you see this growing?’ My answer: ‘I’m going to write a book that includes activities from the workshops; that allows other teachers and parents to take these lessons forward. So that the messages move beyond me.’

 

Having made that declaration, on returning home to Melbourne, Australia, I found an email that had been sitting in my inbox for ten days. It was from Dharini Bhaskar, Editor at Rupa publications. ‘I have read about your work. Would you like to write a book?’ I nearly deleted it; surely this was spam? Then I read it again…and again. It was obvious Dharini actually did know about my work through The Gandhi Experiment; it was obvious she was writing personally, to me. Ah, the synchronicity I had come to understand that is somehow magically embedded in India was manifesting action. Dharini’s email was returned with a resounding ‘Yes.’

 

The book, The Gandhi Experiment – Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens has now taken shape and a life of its own. It is due to be published on July 1, this year, only a few short weeks away. Am I excited? Absolutely. I can see the power of the messages already moving well beyond me as the author, as teachers in Mumbai and Nagaland have run The Best Forgiveness Role Play Ever, a secular and lateral approach to forgiveness and inclusivity; as other teachers, parents and youth leaders prepare to hold The Dinner Party to Save the World in their student forums or at home at their own dinner tables, hosting courageous conversations, provocations and mindful activities; as more teachers are taking on ‘Almost Impossible Thoughts’, teaching young people how to take their skills, their passions, their expertise and combine it with ‘What does the world need me to do right now?’ The Utopian Scale is designed to shift attitudes, whilst the Conundrum of Inner Listening helps us all find that ‘still, small voice’ of guidance within.

 

With my 30 years teaching experience, I know it is all about ensuring the lessons ‘stick,’ – that they move both inwards, then outwards, beyond the classroom walls. Underpinned by critical thinking, multiple intelligences, parallel thinking and positive education, these lessons are designed to do precisely that. 

 

Nelson Mandela requested us all ‘To rise beyond our own expectations of ourselves.’ Yet Mandela wasn’t just speaking to the young people of this world – he was speaking to us all. If for two seconds you are wondering about the importance of this kind of teaching, then just look at the world around you.

 

How are we going to teach our teenagers how to become global citizens? Be inspired yourself by reading the chapter, ‘Almost Impossible Thoughts’. You will come to understand how to use your expertise, your passions, your visions –whatever they may be -  to help our teens find expression in theirs.

 

Change really does begin with ‘me’. Ah, yes, that does mean you.

Let’s go for it!

Cheery blessings,

Margaret

 

The Gandhi Experiment – Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens will be available through Amazon.com and Rupa publications on July 1. Go to www.thegandhiexperiment.com to be notified of publication and learn more about the student workshops.

 

Author / Educator Margaret Hepworth is an expert in teenage motivations & behaviours; a thought leader in peace education; the founder of The Gandhi Experiment;  an English and Humanities teacher of 30 years; author of The Gandhi Experiment – teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens; recipient of the 2016 Sir John Monash Award for Inspirational Women's Leadership; creator of Collaborative Debating ©. www.thegandhiexperiment.com

Margaret@margarethepworth.com   +61422154875

The Gandhi Experiment - the freshest ideas in mindful education

Collaborative Debating comes to Timbertop, Geelong Grammar

Timbertop - Geelong Grammar's remote Year 9 campus.

Timbertop - Geelong Grammar's remote Year 9 campus.

 

Yr 9 students, and their teachers, learn a new methodology in debating.

It was the last week of Term One and a bunch of Year 9 students were learning new skills – how not to be sarcastic; how not to tear each other down; how not to let that ego prance and dance all over a perceived opponent.

 

Instead, they were learning to debate with respect. A novel idea, in the throes of a world that opens them up to the Clinton / Trump debates, online bullying and a media that so often names and shames.

 

In fact, they no longer even had a perceived opponent! Instead they were coming face to face with people who had alternative beliefs and opinions to theirs, yet who now approached debate with the intent to look for points of agreeance and to solve the problem at hand.

 

Before beginning the debate, we examined language and how it shapes our thoughts. It was generally agreed that a debate that began with an Affirmative team and a Negative team was setting up adversarial positioning, just as our politics are framed by the Government and the Opposition. Look what happens when we begin the debate with an Affirmative Team and a Cooperative team. Can we ever move to a point where we have the Government and the Cooperative Party? Politicians who seek to build on each other’s ideas for the betterment of the country?

 

We examined the notion that just because ‘this is the way it has always been done’, doesn’t mean we cannot re-imagine it, and therefore change structures to create a more solution-driven outcome.

 

Then we set up the debate and away we went. The audience soon discovered that they couldn’t just sit and listen (or not even listen!). That they were indeed part of the whole debate; that their opinions would be recognised. In fact, one member of the audience told me afterwards: ‘It wasn’t like a normal debate where I would just think who is going to win this debate? Instead I kept thinking what is my opinion on this issue? What should we really do about this?’

The Cooperative team prepares their debate. A member of the audience also researches her stance on the topic.

The Cooperative team prepares their debate. A member of the audience also researches her stance on the topic.

 

The debaters soon discovered that they could think for themselves – that they didn’t have to tow a party line. That when the Mentor asked ‘Does anyone want to cross the floor right now’, they could. With no detrimental effect from their team – because the team was not seeking to win against the other team. They were seeking to make things better for the entire community. To find the best outcomes even through disagreeance.

 

One student wrote afterwards: ‘Collaborative Debating is an amazing technique to discuss two different sides of a topic without fighting or being completely stubborn.

 

For myself, as the creator of Collaborative Debating, I could not have been happier with the outcome. The teachers soon successfully ran their own Collaborative Debates, and scored PD through the learning! The key role of the Mentor, formerly the adjudicator, who no longer ranks, judges or scores, was modelled in each debate, by myself, to a Year 9 student – an assistant Mentor. And every time, without fail, that student had grasped the role and was on their feet invoking Guidances through each debate. I was struck by how rapidly they were able to take this on.

A happy teacher's message scrawled on the 'What's Happening' board outside the library.

A happy teacher's message scrawled on the 'What's Happening' board outside the library.

 

It was rigorous academic learning at its finest. Values education sunk deeply into the English classroom, both overtly and covertly being learnt by 15 year olds. Respectful learning that can be taken into the playground, homes and future workplaces.

 

Vanessa Hewson, Director of Learning at Timbertop said: “Students are empowered to be collaborative problem solvers rather than adversarial opponents. The discussion that unfolds is far richer and delves deeper into issues of local and global importance.”

 

It has affirmed my own belief that every school should be teaching Collaborative Debating.

Collaborative Debating manual now available for purchase. For a happy discount, just ask!

Collaborative Debating manual now available for purchase. For a happy discount, just ask!

 

If you wish to know more about Collaborative Debating  – how to purchase the Collaborative Debating manual or how to book a workshop – for students, teachers or even into the corporate world – go to www.thegandhiexperiment.com or simply email Margaret – margaret@margarethepworth.com   or call 0422 154 875.

 

More stories coming soon and look out for our Facebook Live when Collaborative Debating comes to the steps of Parliament House!

Kashmir in Crises

Kashmir in Crises

72 people have been killed in the recent protests since July 9th, 2016, and over 11,000 people injured. Hundreds have been blinded or suffer structural eye damage through the use of pellet guns; many of these are children. Rajmohan Gandhi writes of the situation and suggests a lateral, thought provoking call to end the violence http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/kashmir-violence-unrest-drop-the-stone-3002958/Sending prayers, thoughts and this poem, to all people caught up in the crises.

OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS TO THE PEOPLE OF LAHORE, PAKISTAN

I awoke in the middle of the night; something called me to glance at my phone. There was a message - 'Iram M has been marked safe in the explosion in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park...' The what? It was 3.15am my time when I opened Facebook messenger and began messaging friends in Lahore, Pakistan. 

This is when Facebook works at its best. I received immediate responses from some; others I am still waiting to hear about their safety. And whilst I can breath a sigh of relief for those I have heard from, I feel intensely for the people who have lost their lives or are lying wounded in hospital and for their distraught and grieving families. 

I wish to comment on two things:

On my recent visit to Pakistan, everywhere I went I met kind, open-hearted, generous people. People who spoke openly about the effects of fear on their children; people who want to be proud of their country, yet struggle with the knowledge that a few are destroying the image of a decent Pakistan; people who want exactly the same things as parents all over the world for their children - peace, love and security. I met happy, vibrant children and teenagers, fully engaged in their learning; wanting to know and understand global issues; wanting to be part of the solution. My heart goes out to you all on this day.

The second comment I wish to make is this. 

To the people who perpetrate these acts, if you want your cause to be heard, to be known, then speak, because your violence deafens us. We invite you to the table to talk; we wish to work with you in peace; we invite you to welcome peace education into the schools of your children and to make non-violence a choice over violence. This choice will create a better future for you and your children. My heart goes out in this appeal to you today.

Margaret Hepworth

if you want your cause to be heard, to be known, then speak, because your violence deafens us

Margaret Hepworth is the Founder of The Gandhi Experiment: World peace through education. If you would like to sponsor a student conference that actively teaches non-violence as a choice, then please contact us on margaret@margarethepworth.com

Peace education is the way forward to unravel the root cause of social conflict. 

Global Participation - it starts with us! student conference in Lahore, Pakistan. The Gandhi Experiment: World peace through education

Global Participation - it starts with us! student conference in Lahore, Pakistan. The Gandhi Experiment: World peace through education

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Collaborative Debating: Educational tools for social change

I’m Margaret Hepworth and I am a peace educator. If that concept was as well understood as ‘Hi, I’m an English teacher’…then the type of changes that are needed in this world…? We’d already be seeing them. We need to embed peace education in our school curriculum.

The Sleeping Dogs of India

The Sleeping Dogs of India

I am walking; blissfully filling in time on a dusty Mumbai street before I am due to attend a Youth for Governance Forum. Up ahead, clothes and rugs colourfully adorn a mid-street barricade. Ah, memories of my days living in China; someone’s washing has been tossed over the metal frame for a public airing. I decide to take a photo to remind my children of their early days in China. But suddenly this becomes a photo that cannot be taken. For now I see the family, the owners of the washing. Without realising it, I am centre stage in an Indian roadside slum.

Asylum Seekers: 10 Things You Can Do

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Malcolm Fraser, former Prime Minister, speaks on multiculturalism and matters that count

On 16 April 2013 I was privileged to attend the book launch of "The Promise of Diversity" and hear the Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser speak. His speech on issues of the past and present in Australia was open, honest and, indeed, inspiring. I was left wondering why so many of our current politicians seem unable to speak with such clarity and humanity.

Mungo Angel - Lake Mungo: One of Australia's Surprising World Heritage Areas

Mungo was calling me long before we made the trek out to the ancient lunar potted landscape. I had first sighted pictures of Lake Mungo in a magazine. Did it grace the front cover of The Good Weekend? Or had it been The Australian Way, the Qantas In-flight Magazine, on my way back from Hawaii? Wherever I had seen it I had taken one glance at the pink sand, the turreted dunes and the bluer than blue sky and thought, Magic! One day I will go there.

The end of the world did not come and yet there are things in this world that should end.

The world did not come to an end on December 21 and yet there are things in this world that should come to an end. Poverty and greed are but a few amongst the big ones. Others? 1. The cultivation of fear as a social norm in the USA is leading to the response 'we must all bear arms.' Yes, America, it is written in your constitution that you all have the 'right to bear arms.' Yet have you stopped to think that this therefore also infers you have the 'right to not bear arms'? It would be of untold benefit for your children to see you implenting that right as a strategy for a better future. End the fear, build positivity. 2. Judgemental attitudes: The concept of superiority.

The Gap Year

We’ve all heard of The Gap Year – the latest fad - that after a gruelling thirteen years of schooling our poor, exhausted young school leavers need to take a break, time-out – a gap year – before they begin the next difficult phase of their lives. And of course, Hamish and Andy have made it famous in their highly quirky take on how to do a Gap Year successfully. The Gap Year – sounds like a real lurk, hey?

Halloween or Disputat-een?

October 31st: Promises a fun evening of dressing up, trick or treating, gorging on lollies. However, All Hallows’ Eve has a far more significant role to play than what is now essentially an American bun and lolly grab. On October 31st 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his ‘Disputation’ of 95 Theses, grievances against the Church, on the door of the Wittenberg Church, he must have felt both very afraid and terribly proud.

Positive Radiance

Picture this: Ani Choying Drolma, clad in robes the colour of pomegranate, shaved head and beaming smile, sings with purity in the language of the Nepalese monks; her backdrop, the mighty Mount Everest, Sagarmatha, and the mountains of the Himalayas. Miyolangsangma, the Tibetan Buddhist Goddess of Inexhaustible Giving, perched atop Everest, smiles down upon her.

Picture this: Anh Do returns to Vietnam, his place of birth. The land that had years ago driven his family away. He is now reconnecting in the most positive way possible.

One could ask, “What is it that these two people, one a Nepalese nun, the other an Aussie comedian, “The Happiest Refugee,” are now giving to themselves?” Perhaps a more pertinent question is, “What are they giving the rest of us?” Actually, it’s a number of things: