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4 minutes reading time (796 words)

“What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?”

As I walk through  This wicked world  Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity  I ask myself  Is all hope lost?  Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?  And each time I feel like this inside, There's one thing I wanna know: What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?  (Nick Lowe) 

We live in a world where basic life necessities are threatened, many people see their rights violated, betrayed. Terrorist attacks undermine daily life, instilling a progressively higher fear of living - if you become afraid of going to the restaurant, taking the metro, or going to a concert, then you have become afraid of living. Sometimes we feel we are facing a 'struggle' that corrodes our ability to really understand who/what/if we have to defend ourselves from, and how. But it seems fundamentally clear and important to me that despite information and politics that encourage us to feel that we are in a 'war', assuming and instilling a 'defending attitude', we have to keep firm to our values. We must prioritise the constructing of common values and principles through peace and solidarity. As parents or educators, we have the responsibility to resist to any war, take the side of living in peace, and embrace solidarity, equality, and justice.

This beautiful video of the International Centre Loris Malaguzzi shows what 'Peace' means in the words of children. Working to change education gives a chance to stay firm in our ideals and more importantly spread out a message of optimism, a culture based on common rights, respects, empathy, welcoming, and involvement in building a new knowledge of the world around us. These values are the base of an education through which adults and children can create a marvellous understanding of each others and build up a complete humanity where people take care of the 'rights of others', sweeping away the fear of living. 

Dr. Jacqui Cousins (educator and founder of Global Children and Eco-Angels) highlights the necessity and importance of listening to children today, in a new article written for Sightlines Initiative. She recalls to us the radical changes that can be made to the attitudes, spirits and well being of very distressed children when we listen to them and remove the unnecessary and damaging pressures.

Jacqui with Park School children at Dartington in 2013

Thinking about recent radicalisation events, "it is time for somebody to take radicalisation much more seriously and do a proper research project on it", in terms of education, she says. "The pattern so far seems to be that (in the main) radicalisation captures young people who are the most sensitive and deeply in need of love and a touchy feely comfort. Vulnerable from families where they simply don't fit or abusive through drink and drugs." She continues: "at a time of global and political change, which will certainly affect all our young children, it is appropriate for me to remember these empathetic youngsters so happy to be safe at Park School here in Devon. (…) These children had picked apples from their orchards, made juice and jam and sold it to help the Syrian children now in our care. They had invited me to their Assembly to share all their gifts. The greatest gift for me was their uninhibited joyfulness expressed in their smiles and reflected in the depth of their feelings. The calmness and peace of that occasion gave the children the confidence to ask me so many questions". "We puzzled together over why there are wars in other places and how to help people make our kind of peace. They had as much time as they needed and their teachers' guidance of children so young was a well practiced art in letting our children be! At Park School, adults take time to listen to the children because they aim to encourage their healthy and holistic development. Essentially, an education for "being" is education for the feelings, the emotions and the spirit. Very often in the past, the 'being' in young children's education was referred to as an unplanned part of the hidden curriculum. However, my own earliest research into the talk of four year olds revealed that what may have been hidden from adults was seldom hidden for the children. They were totally tuned in to everything that was going on around them even to the relationships and attitudes the adults had towards each other".

Read Jacqui's full article here. Do read it, and pass it on: she has much to say to today's younger educators.

Our values are a gift to the new generations, a message of care and love to the world we inhabit, and a vision of the future that humanity will live. It is time to work every day on these values, without missing any single day to affirm them.

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Thursday, 02 February 2023

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