conflict resolution

'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!

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

 

#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

  

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!