Margaret Hepworth

A FEW BUSY WEEKS IN ALL THINGS PEACE-BUILDING

My team of visiting professors from Shihezi University, P.R.China - ‘thinkers’ at Monash University

My team of visiting professors from Shihezi University, P.R.China - ‘thinkers’ at Monash University

The last few weeks have been an extremely busy, yet productive and rewarding time for me.

I have:

  • Headed up an education program running out of Melbourne University for 16 Chinese professors from Shihezi University;

  • MCd the Afghan Komak Awards and danced my way into the night, Afghan style;

The Team organising the KOMAK Awards, celebrating achievements in our Afghan Community.

The Team organising the KOMAK Awards, celebrating achievements in our Afghan Community.

  • Facilitated workshops on Global Citizenship and Leadership Within at the Wyndham Community and Education Centre's inspiring multi-faith camp;

“I really enjoyed the part where we got to learn about conflict resolution, which helped me a lot.”

“I really enjoyed the part where we got to learn about conflict resolution, which helped me a lot.”

  • Run a Positive Thinking workshop for African women through African Family Services.

And in between all this, I have met other pretty extraordinary people.

Phew! 


So I needed time to stop and smell the roses! I was lucky enough to do so at my friends' house up in the Melbourne hills, at Sassafrass.

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Stop and smell the roses

This one smells like peachy heaven!

My own learning has been deep.

"For me, the special moment came, when in our final workshop, 'Almost Impossible Thoughts', each Shihezi University professor, all from science backgrounds, stood up to share what they would be taking home. They spoke of how they had come to a sense of a shared global humanity, giving very specific examples of how they would develop their own research projects to help shape a more positive future for all." 

SHOULD WE CHANGE THE DATE OF AUSTRALIA DAY? A QUESTION THAT SPEAKS TO NATIONS ACROSS OUR GLOBE.

Should we change the date of Australia Day?

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

 

A question that speaks to the heart of who we are as Australians. A question that is relevant to all nations across the globe.

 

Are we an inclusive nation?

 

Many, many years ago as a teenager in secondary school, I learnt in our History class, that the Protestant Irish celebrated a holiday, parading through the streets, on a day that marked an Irish Catholic massacre. Even as a young girl at that time, I could feel the lack of empathy. I wondered why they did this and couldn’t they simply celebrate their special day on another date? There appeared to be a lack of willingness to understand and resolve. The ‘victors’ dancing on a day of sorrow for the ‘other.’

 

I am a teacher of some 30 years now, having taught English, Humanities and Indigenous Studies throughout that lengthy time. Interestingly, one of the main focuses for our pre-service teachers, i.e. our next generation of teachers in Australia, is to learn to teach the value of inclusivity and to model this through their teaching methodologies.

 

Inclusivity is highlighted in our National Curriculum as being of primary importance for our young people to grow as healthy, well-adjusted individuals. Then surely we also need to look to celebrating this value as an Australian nation.

 

I recently went on a tour of so called ‘orphanages’ that held aboriginal children of the Stolen Generations, a period of time that ran (approximately) from 1910-to early 1970s. I am sure I do not need to tell you these children were not orphans. I was horrified by the tour; the horror came from the ‘what was still being said now’. It felt like we were back in the 1930s and that the prevailing attitude of that time was still being carried by this tour guide. I was deeply concerned and I don’t even want to refer to the words she used to describe Aborigines. She also presented some of the stories that were told to Aboriginal children to stop them looking for their mothers as though they were truths.

 

I want people to know that in certain places in our country, this is how our history is still being told.

 

I spoke privately with the tour guide afterwards, inviting her to listen to another way that this story could be told; inviting her into a narrative that needs to be shared and deeply understood if real change is to occur. Finally, I added, “You have an amazing opportunity here for real learning, education and for healing to occur, if you can open to a different perspective.”

 

It is my belief that we have this same opportunity for learning and healing by changing the date of Australia Day.

 

Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, recently declared that local councils will be forced to hold Australia Day ceremonies on January 26, even if the councillors personally believe this should not be happening.  Many see this as an unusual and authoritarian stance. In my own experience as a teacher of many years, we would be better to apply critical thinking and utilise Collaborative Debating to open up the topic to exploration. In this way, we do not tell people what to think, yet we invite them to think.

 

Let’s be very clear, Australia Day falls on January 26. This is the day that Captain Arthur Phillip stabbed a flag in the soil of, what they had named, Sydney Cove. If we want to be pedantic, on that day they claimed the colony of New South Wales, and a penal colony at that. Not a nation, not Australia!

 

There is nothing pedantic in stating and understanding that this was the beginning of a genocide for the peoples of the British Government’s “Terra Nullius.”

 

If we continue to celebrate on a day that many of the First Peoples and others regard as a day of mourning but as a nation, we can’t see or understand or empathise – then that is an ongoing tragedy. Where is the inclusivity we are teaching, put into practice? It is time to change.

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

 

I have been running Collaborative Debating workshops over the past couple of years in schools in Melbourne. This topic: “Should we change the date for Australia Day?” is a popular choice. The responses from secondary students have been nothing short of extraordinary and I wish more adults were in these workshops to hear these young people talk.

 

I want to be very clear here – I don’t tell these kids what to think. We set up a Collaborative Debate, which has a framework that invites respect, listening and participation from all involved, including the audience. Speakers may even acknowledge that they have changed their mind throughout the debate. They may even apologise to the other side! And halfway through what are always very active, robust debates, we have a mindful moment of stilled silence, allowing new wisdoms and insights to enter the debate. Can you imagine politicians doing this?

 

Students have told me: “Saying sorry doesn’t mean we are ever going to change.”

What these young people understand is it is all about what the date represents and it will take a change in attitude for real change to occur. For most, they want to see the date changed as a mark of respect and so it allows them to freely celebrate all the wonderful positives about our country, together. Australians all let us rejoice.

“because of the damage it represents that none of us can ignore”

16 year old participant in a school Collaborative Debate

 

Some students have suggested, “Not changing the date yet changing our attitude.” They say we should keep this date but not to be celebrated, instead to “have it like ANZAC day”, as a commemorative day. Then to have a separate day of celebration, inclusive for all. At one school, after this same decision had been made, one boy put up his hand. He spoke vehemently, from the heart. He said that he could understand a commemorative day, and yet, with what had occurred through our history, the biggest way we could show we were taking action in regards to commemorating, was to change the date, “because of the damage it represents that none of us can ignore.” He received thunderous applause.

 

In all cases, the final decision from the majority of these secondary students was to change the date of Australia Day.

 

This year I want to walk the Songlines in Western Australia. I want to learn. One truth that we commonly forget in this country is that the Aborigines actually aided many white ‘settlers’ and early explorers. It is thanks to local tribes, that many of these people survived.

 

I am hoping they will now include me, teach me, and that in doing so I will not only survive, I will thrive.

Do we need to change the date of Australia Day? 

I believe it is a question that speaks to the hearts and minds not just of our country, but reaches out to hearts and minds across the globe, to any country who claims to value inclusivity, empathy and equality as values that pillar their nation. After centuries of colonisation / invasion, the ‘victors’ across the world are still unable to empathize or listen deeply. Perhaps this shows they are still carrying the hallmarks of colonialism, even whilst proclaiming we have progressed into a 'modern world.'

Inclusivity is a value that could change the world. I believe Australia has an amazing opportunity to be an exemplar to other nations with similar histories who continue to undermine their First Peoples or other marginalized groups.

I am not telling you what to think. Yet I am inviting you to think.

 

Margaret Hepworth

Founder The Gandhi Experiment

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth

William Ricketts Sanctuary Photo credit Margaret Hepworth


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

Maragret is the ‘go to’ for Collaborative Debating. For workshops you can contact her on Margaret@margarethepworth.com

'SCENE ONE; SCENE TWO' - A ROLE PLAY TEACHING HOW TO MAKE BETTER CHOICES

‘Scene One; Scene Two’  - a role play about making better choices.

‘Scene One; Scene Two’ - a role play about making better choices.

These young students, Yr 4-6 (age 10-13yrs old) are completely rocking my role play on anger management and the choices we can make when we are upset, frustrated and angry. 
The role play intentionally utilises the learning preferences for audio, visual and kinesthetic learners, so that everyone is readily engaged and learns the messages. 
I crafted this role play to follow a pattern that works:

1. To ‘take them out beyond themselves’ 
2. To bring it back 'to me', to 'my school' and 'my home' environments
3. To understand I might get angry, yet I can calm down and choose a different response
4. To see that both violence and kindness have a ripple effect- and I can be a part of either one.

5. It is a choice. My response is important not just to me but to others around me as well. 

These kids are amazing improvisers, acting completely off the cuff, acting out one scenario and then going into 'rewind' to act out a different response- and having a ball doing so! My heartfelt thanks to them. 

‘Global Citizenship - It starts with us!’ is one of The Gandhi Experiment’s signature student workshops

Feeling great after our workshop

Feeling great after our workshop

COLLABORATIVE DEBATING THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION

Students workshop the topic prior to the Collaborative Debate

Students workshop the topic prior to the Collaborative Debate

Last Friday, I was very excited to be back at Preshil, running a Collaborative Debate with all their Yr 10s. Having studied ethical questions around the Fourth Industrial Revolution - digital revolution - social credit, advanced surveillance technology, facial recognition and more, the topic of our Collaborative Debate was ‘That we need more surveillance strategies.’ Oh yes, it was challenging!

I was impressed at how quickly these Yr 10s learnt to shift to this new framework of collaborative conversation, not trying to point score or denigrate, but to open the topic up to further examination. 

In Collaborative Debating we learn that we may need to pose new questions - create a question chain that will then take us closer to the answers we are seeking. One such question raised by one of the Preshil Yr 10s in relation to new surveillance strategies was ‘What are the outcomes we would be seeking?’ It helped to clarify the purpose and intent of our debate. 

And as much as we were talking about 'screens' here we were fully engaged in face-to-face conversations, in deep learning. Love it!

"MANDELA DID NOT CARRY BITTERNESS." LESSONS FROM MADIBA AND SELLO HATANG

Sello Hatang, CEO Nelson Mandela Foundation, speaks at the opening of Mandela, My Life exhibition, Melbourne Museum.

Sello Hatang, CEO Nelson Mandela Foundation, speaks at the opening of Mandela, My Life exhibition, Melbourne Museum.

“Mandela did not carry bitterness.”

 

There were many ‘aha’ moments listening to Sello Hatang, the quietly measured, impressive speaker - CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation - at the opening of the Mandela, My Life exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. I had the privilege to meet and hear Sello speak again, the very next day, to a more intimate audience at the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission where I was working with the Mandela 365 organisation, the Commission and 20 young African Ambassadors seeking to become advocates for their communities.

 

Sello’s ‘ahas’ were coming thick and fast: stories of Mandela – his ability to remain humble in the face of potentially usurping adoration; his willingness to travel the journey that we should all be travelling; and that Mandela saw hope as a gift.

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God knows how he held on to that hope, spending 27 long years in jail.

 

Yet this is the ‘aha’ that resonated with me that day and left me wanting to unpack it – to discover its secrets for education: “Mandela did not carry bitterness.”

 

In my leadership workshops with community groups, I call on Mandela as a role model. Only two weeks earlier, with this very same group, I had placed the name ‘Mandela’ on the whiteboard, circled it, and invited the group to explore the values that this man exhibited. They swiftly came up with a weighty list: courage, inclusiveness, empathy, the ability to self-reflect, forgiveness, tenacity – that ability to persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. And more.

 

Then came the real challenge: ‘You see, any one of us knows how to answer this question – to throw a list of impressive qualities up there that reflect really great leadership. Any one of our current world leaders could do this. Yet, the real questions are these – ‘Do I carry these qualities? Have I really learned how to be humble? To genuinely feel equal – with everyone? To treat everyone with respect? How am I going to learn to do these things? How am I going to work on not only my capacity to ‘get the job done’, but also on my character?’

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But one of Sello’s observations had not been on our list. ‘Mandela did not carry bitterness.’

 

I guess you could argue that this is another way of saying Mandela had the ability to forgive. Not just say it; really do it. Forgive. Yet, for me, this statement was beginning to reveal to us clues we all need if we want to build a more forgiving world. Not carrying bitterness is one of the keys to learning how to forgive. It is the what comes before forgiveness. And forgiveness is paramount in a world that needs healing.

 

‘Mandela did not carry bitterness.’ Let’s unpack this a little. You will note the statement does not say Mandela never got angry; Mandela never got bitter / upset / frustrated. What it says is that he did not maintain it.

 

Was this innate for Mandela? Was he born like this? I am not sure and certainly he may have been somewhat wired that way. However, his early years and actions with the ANC would suggest otherwise. Or was it a learnt trait? And if so, if he could do this, then surely so can we all.

 

Thank you Sello Hatang for your insights into an incredible man. He told that small, attentive group, ‘We must find the Mandela within ourselves. We must be the legacy.’

 

What is the relevance of this to today’s world. Imagine the inter-generational / inter-racial / inter-communal / inter-cultural hatred that could literally be halted in its tracks, right here, right now, if we were all better able to not carry bitterness.

The CEO of the Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, has put it out there. Yet the mantle has passed to us. How do we teach ourselves and our young people not to carry bitterness?

 

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I, for one, am going to keep exploring this. I believe it already exists in the lessons of my forum activity, The Best Forgiveness Role Play Ever, yet I will seek to emphasise it, draw out the learning so that we may all benefit. And I will keep you posted as to new ideas and tools that will come. And of course, the outcomes!

 

Cheery blessings to all,

 

Marg


Margaret Hepworth is the founder of The Gandhi Experiment. She travels widely, running forums in teaching non-violence as a conscious choice.

‘The Best Forgiveness Role Play Ever’ can be found in Margaret’s new book: The Gandhi Experiment - Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens www.thegandhiexperiment.com Available at all amazon stores and bookstores worldwide

‘Fortitude’ - a compelling short story on Mandela, courage and expansive thought, can be found at https://thegandhiexperiment.teachable.com

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COLLABORATIVE DEBATING - HEAR IT FROM THE KIDS!

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On Wednesday I ran yet another Collaborative Debating workshop, this time for the Yr 9s at Donvale Christian College. It is amazing to see how quickly young people can re-frame a debate from being adversarial to respectful once they are taught how to do this. 

But don't take it from me - here it is from the students themselves: 

  • "The idea of Collaborative Debating is much better since it isn't about fighting the opposition but more about coming to an agreement." 
  • "I learnt that Collaborative Debating is about working together to resolve conflict, yet you can still disagree." 
  • "I liked how Collaborative Debating was less competitive and more about communication."
  • "I think Collaborative Debating helps the opposing sides to understand each other's statements without going straight to rebuttal. It was really informative."
  • "We gained a powerful insight on how we can change for the better."

Marg Hepworth is the "Go-To" for Collaborative Debating: Inquire at margaret@margarethepworth.com

My Mindful Coordinator (MC) and timekeeper, doing a sterling job of maintaining respect throughout our debate.

My Mindful Coordinator (MC) and timekeeper, doing a sterling job of maintaining respect throughout our debate.

#collaborativedebating #thegandhiexperiment #margarethepworth #peaceeducation #insightfulyr9s #debating

MARTIN LUTHER KING MLK50: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

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Many years ago, my family were touring the US, when we entered a solemn doorway, the entrance to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Housed above us was the very Hotel room and balcony where Martin Luther King Jnr had been assassinated fifty years ago - April 4, 1968.

As we paused at the ticket booth, my young daughter, only 7 years old at the the time, looked up at the tall custodian, his welcoming hand holding our tickets. She asked, ‘Did Martin Luther King achieve his dream?’

As her parents, we were astounded. She really had been listening to our stories of the Dreamer and The Dream, the man with a vision as enormous as this country we were travelling across! She really was taking in the significance of the place we were about to enter! And...was it ok to ask him that?

The tall custodian stood back. Then he laughed, loud and heartily. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Look at us now! Just look at us now!’ But suddenly the laughter halted. He looked into her deeply. His voice quietened. ‘We still have a long way to go. But look at us now.’

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death, we would do well to pause, take stock and reflect. Years on -  why, oh why do we still have a long way to go? Why haven’t we got it right by now? Surely, oh surely, it just can’t be that difficult. Yet here we still are, in a world that needs to learn a better way.

There are choices people make in times of conflict and post conflict. To implement violence is a choice. Revenge is a choice. Yet those people who have held to the mission of non-violence, even through extreme circumstances, are those who have become the most respected; held within people’s hearts, globally. As we all well know, Martin Luther King was one such person.

The alternative choice, of non-violence, is often the less easy path. Yet to choose non-violence creates transformational change – both within and without. The conscious choice of non-violence reaches out to the hearts, minds and souls of others. This is the bolder choice.

Martin Luther King led a battle ‘fought not with guns and violence, but with ideas and beliefs.’ (Colin Powell). Millions fought alongside him.

Choosing violence is sure to bring change. Dead people, wounded people. Perhaps a change of leadership. People seeking revenge. None of this is transformational. It speaks to the ordinary, to the base, to reacting not responding. Of unconsciousness, not consciousness.

What we are seeking now is the extraordinary.

So we ask ourselves, how did he do it?

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death, let us remember his fight against poverty, against racism, against war, against a lack of freedom in all its forms. Let us remember his fight for equality. Now let each one of us fulfil his legacy.

Mira, a young Palestinian-Australian student in one of my Global Citizenship forums sent me an email. She wrote of a renewed attitude, an alternative to revenge: ‘If I did the same, I am no better than them, whether I have a right to revenge or not...My new (almost) Impossible thought is peace for my people and forgiveness to the people who hurt us, because I know not all of them wanted to.  I want peace and rights to my people and my family and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis...I have yet to forgive them, but I have no interest in revenge anymore, but instead to work towards forgiveness, but most of all, peace.

Change begins with me. Change begins with us. Mira, at 16 years old, is living the legacy of Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King’s dream was a dream for all humanity. Thinking back on our visit to the National Civil Rights Museum, and on my young daughter’s innocent enquiry, I am reminded of what Martin Luther King's god-daughter tells us:

‘You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.’

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Thank you Martin Luther King for your courage, your honesty, your tenacity and your highly respectable leadership. And for your encouragement of us all. 

Margaret Hepworth

www.thegandhiexperiment.com

 

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

  

WHEN PROACTIVE PARENTING MEETS EMPOWERING EDUCATION

Photo permission granted

Photo permission granted

When I wrote 'The Gandhi Experiment - Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens', the readers I had in mind were parents and teachers. I never expected to be contacted by two 12 year olds telling me, 'We are reading your book' and 'we are up to “The Best Forgiveness Role-Play Ever”, we really, really loved the thinking shown by the Babemba Tribe that you talked about in your book and we would like to show our class an example of this.' 

Kids teaching kids - it doesn't get better than this!

'The Gandhi Experiment' was given to Loren, and read with her, by her mum, who intentionally seeks ways to teach peace-building strategies in their home. Mum wrote to me too, 'She is very inspired by the work you have been doing, as am I. Both my daughters feel really empowered that they can now make a difference in the world.'

Loren's teacher then fully supported her and her friend in using 'The Gandhi Experiment - Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens' as part of their research on their project on Conflict Resolution. These two young people contacted me over Skype and asked a series of questions about conflict negotiation. I was so impressed with the maturity of their questioning and their thinking. And more-so that they were pursuing conflict resolution as something they felt they and their peers needed to learn more about to enhance their own lives. 

Amazing teamwork - parent/teacher/student all working together - to achieve valuable life-skills. 

Blessings to you all. This article comes with Loren's mum's blessings too. She is a proactive parent who believes that teaching her children life-skills, such as conflict negotiation, will auger well for their futures. 

#TheGandhiExperiment #PeerLearning #PeaceEducation #ValuesEducation

www.thegandhiexperiment.com 

Available worldwide at any good bookstore

Available worldwide at any good bookstore

"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.

Asylum Seekers: 10 Things You Can Do

Have you been wondering about the asylum seeker debate in Australia? Would you like to become better informed? Would you like to do more? Click on the links below to find a list of items that range from reading and viewing to becoming actively involved.