peace building

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." 

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

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!