Gandhi

#ArmMeWith HOW DO WE MAKE THE VOICE OF PEACE EDUCATION LOUDER THAN THE VOICE THAT RAISES GUNS?

Global Citizenship - it starts with us! teacher training workshop, Mumbai.

Global Citizenship - it starts with us! teacher training workshop, Mumbai.

Opinion piece.

See all these teachers? Amazing people. Every one of them committed to values education. Every one of them seeking to implement more peace and values education, embedding it into the academic curriculum.

 

And yes, that’s me in the centre – having just run a livley teacher-training workshop, Global Citizenship – it starts with us! for Principals and teachers in Mumbai.

 

Yet, now I sit with my head in my hands. Deflated. A physical and emotional response to the suggestion that teachers in America be armed with guns.

 

Thankfully, as I scan social media, I discover two American teachers, Brittany Wheaton and Olivia Bertels,  - and I take time to observe these are American teachers -  have created the #ArmMeWith movement. Essentially, they are saying, Arm Me With the equipment, resources and stability to teach, NOT GUNS! And teachers all across America are joining in.

 

Here is what I have read thus far:

Arm me with smaller classes

Arm me with books, not guns

Arm me with mental health resources

Arm me with anti-bullying programs

Arm me with suicide awareness

Arm me with libraries with books (What? They don’t have a library in their school?)

This one speaks volumes: I don’t need a gun; I need a raise.

Arm me with school supplies. I should not be single-handedly keeping Target in business

And Arm me with politicians who value my students over guns

 

It is difficult to point the finger overseas and let it rest there. Only two weeks ago, I visited a vital organisation here in Melbourne which works with youth at risk. I listened as their CEO spoke of how they are struggling to continue their programs with funding cuts. I returned home to turn on the news. The headline - 'Australia unveils plan to become one of world’s top 10 arms exporters' - also left me with my head in my hands. I will not have guns used in unearthly conflict with ‘Made in Australia’ stamped upon the barrel and by extrapolation, upon my own sweating brow.

 

If you think we are already ‘doing enough of this stuff’ in schools – you know, the ‘peacey stuff’, then ask yourself why a man who thinks it is ok for teachers to carry concealed weapons got into power. Stop. Think. He didn’t vote himself in.

 

In fact, we need more of the ‘peacey-stuff.’ The stuff that helps kids unravel hate and discrimination. In particular, an education that unravels fear.

 

Recently, I was chatting with a primary school student. It was just a light-hearted, friendly chat. Out of nowhere came this question from the child, ‘Did you know you can only go to America for one day.’ I smiled inwardly at the child’s cute lack of knowledge about global travel. I asked casually, yet curiously, ‘Oh, why is that?’ ‘Well,’ replied the 9 year old, ‘It isn’t safe to go there.’

The time to do more is well overdue.

For me, my Arm Me With wish?

#ArmMeWith the funds to continue teaching non-violence, in all its forms. To allow peace and values education to gain wider reach and depth. For the work to flourish, just as our kids should be flourishing.

Look back to the photo above. Trust in the solidarity of educators who are change-makers and peace-builders.

Speaker / 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  

'The Gandhi Experiment - Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens' Purchase here

Please note: The views expressed are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily of anyone pictured or mentioned. 

Arm me with politicians who value my students over guns
— Teacher from the #ArmMeWith movement

GANDHI'S PRAYER FOR PEACE - LET'S PUT IT TO GOOD USE!

At the Gandhi Smriti, Delhi.  Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

At the Gandhi Smriti, Delhi.

Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

This is Gandhi’s Prayer for Peace.

On the anniversary of Gandhi's death, it seems highly appropriate to call upon his prayer for peace now.

Rather than simply reading his prayer-poem and thinking 'oh isn't that nice', let's put it to super good use as a way of seeing those we view as 'the other' in a different perspective. We are about to read the prayer-poem a number of times, in a number of ways.

As you read, hear the words, the sound and feel the vibration.

1.) Read the poem.

Sit quietly for one minute with the thoughts of the poem. Be aware of what comes to mind. Your thoughts may be directly related to the words of the poem or may take you somewhere else. Be very aware of where, or to whom, these thoughts take you.

GANDHI’S PRAYER FOR PEACE
I offer you peace
I offer you love
I offer you friendship
I see your beauty
I hear your need
I feel your feelings
My wisdom flows from the highest source
I salute that source in you
Let us work together
For unity and peace.

2.) The scene in this poem is as though two people are sitting face to face, looking directly into each other’s eyes. Read the poem again, perhaps several times. Each time you read it, imagine two people who may be currently seen as oppositional, saying this poem to each other. For example, an Israeli and a Palestinian, a white supremacist with a Chinese-American, one world leader to another, a logger with a ‘greenie.’ Imagine what may have happened if the British had said this to the Native Americans, or the French to the Vietnamese, the Romans to the Jews of Bethlehem.

3.) Braver still, can you say the poem to someone you know? If not out loud, say it in your head, imagining someone you are currently experiencing difficulty with; where a relationship has turned sour. This may be your partner, your teenager, your mother or father, a work colleague perhaps.

Be mindful of your thoughts; be aware of the way your body responds; be conscious of your feelings.

4.) Finally, we all know that we are often in conflict with ourselves. Internally, one part of us arguing with another part of ourselves. Read the prayer-poem again, this time allowing the parts of you in conflict to speak to each other. 

Again, be aware of how you are feeling now.

Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa share thoughts and wisdoms on overcoming conflict, at the IofC centre, Asia Plateau, Jan 2018.  Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa share thoughts and wisdoms on overcoming conflict, at the IofC centre, Asia Plateau, Jan 2018.

Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

The story of The Imam and the Pastor is a remarkable true story of two men involved in violent conflict who were able to 'Be the change' that has brought equally remarkable peace.

"In the 1990s, Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa led opposing, armed militias, dedicated to defending their respective communities as violence broke out in Kaduna, northern Nigeria. In pitched battles, Pastor James lost his hand and Imam Ashafa’s spiritual mentor and two close relatives were killed.

Now the two men are co-directors of the Muslim-Christian Interfaith Mediation Centre in their city, leading task-forces to resolve conflicts across Nigeria." http://www.iofc.org/imam-pastor

I was privileged enough to hear them both speak and meet them personally in Panchgani, India very recently. To me, they emulate what can be achieved if we set our hearts and minds to it. 

You can find these lessons and more in my book 'The Gandhi Experiment - Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens,'

Enjoy your experiments with peace,

Margaret

WILL YOU WHISPER PEACE WITH ME?

Part One:

Are Gandhi's teachings still relevant in today's world?

William Ricketts Sanctuary Vic - Photo taken by Margaret Hepworth

William Ricketts Sanctuary Vic - Photo taken by Margaret Hepworth

‘Too many people are experimenting with war and violence. We need more people experimenting with peace and non-violence.’ This clear thought came to me when visiting Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram (memorial) a few years ago. Gandhi had a workable methodology for countering violence with non-violence. Today, we need to teach solution focused activities for positive change. So now I experiment with lessons in peace-building – through The Gandhi Experiment.

In my student workshop, Global Citizenship – it starts with us! I ask my teenage participants, ‘What are our current big global issues?’ It doesn’t matter which country I am in, Australia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia – or wherever these participants are from – Kashmir, Timor Leste, Vietnam, Malaysia, Afghanistan -  they name the same things: war and conflict; poverty; domestic violence; asylum seekers and displaced peoples; global warming; greed; over-competitiveness; terrorism; inequality; corruption; discrimination – religious, gender-based, Islamophobia. On occasion they even name a world leader as a global issue!

Every item in their list is a form of violence – violence to others and violence to our planet. And then comes the realization – at a deep and intrinsic level, these all pertain to violence to ourselves.

At The Gandhi Experiment, we don’t study Gandhi, the man himself, per se. What we do examine is the essence of his messages. To keep it simple, easily learnt and applied, I teach our teenagers what I call the ‘three plus one model’. Essentially, Gandhi stood on three platforms:

1.   In conflict situations, always choose non-violence as a conscious choice.

2.     ‘Satyagraha’, Gandhi’s word for your 'truth-force' or 'soul-force.' Yet when ‘my truth’ does not match ‘your truth’, we always revert to the first platform, to choose a non-violent method to sort out our differences.

3.     The third one is oh-so-relevant to us all today. Gandhi would sit and pray each morning and night. Thoughts would come in; insights and wisdoms that paved the way forward. Then, Gandhi would get off his backside and take action. There it is, the third platform - action. How often do we sit around the dinner table, whinging and whining, blaming the rest of the word for all its problems? Yet we fail to take the actions required to meet real change head on.

And the ‘Plus one’? The over-arching theme that encompasses all three of the ‘platforms’ is to profoundly understand that ‘Change begins with me.’

Gandhi is often quoted as having said the famous line, ‘Be the change you want to see in this world.’ Now a little digging research will tell you, he didn’t say exactly that. To paraphrase, what he did say was, ‘If you can change yourself, the world around you will change.’

Sit for a moment and breath that thought in to your being. If, in mid-screaming match with your teenager or in a heated dispute with a co-worker - what is the change that you can make to effect the change you want to see in this world? If you can change your own behavior, then the world around you will change as well.

What is the change that you can make to effect the change you want to see in this world?
 

It doesn’t mean giving in, or giving up. But it does mean giving – respect, understanding and listening – even at your most troublesome times. And sometimes it means giving all of these things to yourself – respect, understanding and deep listening.

I apply the learning through Gandhian philosophy, making it relevant to today’s context. Here are just a few examples:

1.     ‘Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong’ underpins The Best Forgiveness Role Play Ever.

2.     ‘The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed’ underpins the Dinner Party to Save the World.

3.     Respect at all times – even for your enemy. ‘It’s always been a mystery to me how people can respect themselves when they humiliate other humans’ underpins Collaborative Debating. I once had a young man, 15 years old, who said to me, ‘We should ask your enemy, what is your truth?’ A young Gandhi in the making.

4.     ‘The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear,’ underpins a break-out workshop I run with adults: ‘Why should you never use fear to control a classroom? Why should you never use fear to control your home? Why should you never use fear to control a country?’

And so, so much more.

I often ask myself, why is it that our kids seem to know more about Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein than they do about Mohandas Gandhi? Why aren’t we taking the lessons of Gandhi, Mandela and King and using them more effectively in our classrooms? Let’s don’t study them as people of history; let’s study them as lessons for the present. It’s time for us to put these lessons into action.

Peace building is an attribute of the strong.

Will you whisper peace with me?

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www.thegandhiexperiment.com     margaret@margarethepworth.com

  

"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

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