On Teachers’ day I am reflecting on my role as a Teacher and thinking of all the years in a classroom, a flashback of images, incidents and moments. What jumps out at me is that while peace education is dear to my heart, I did not “teach’’ peace. I “learnt” to see it! Appreciate it! Allow it to grow! Because one thing was very clear to me from the day I stepped into a classroom of 30 elementary aged students, that to them, peace came naturally.
Be it in the form of support they gave one another, like the 8 year old who not only willingly taught a younger student how to tie her laces but also ensured that when she was ready, she was acknowledged for her effort in front of the whole class and declared ’master of tying shoelaces’
Or in the thought provoking debate on human needs, which was sparked by the lesson including defence as a fundamental human need. With groups divided in opinion and fence sitters the debate progressed and as I heard the arguments and counter arguments , regardless of which side was speaking , I heard ideas of fair play, need for appropriate reactions, thought before action, and in all cases an attempt at finding alternatitives to reactions and retaliations. I wished, at that moment, that the Heads of State could understand this innate need for peace.
Or when it surfaced as the genuine care giving instinct for even a tiny seed about to sprout, as I watched a group of students set out experiments to determine what plants needed to grow. As per the experiment card they agreed to deprive each seed of any one element needed as in water, air, soil, light. Then came the voice that said” we need to set up one that doesn’t get love. Everyone needs love to grow” So it was decided, included as a category, experimented on and concluded that it was indeed a critical ingredient for the seed’s growth and that by ignoring it for a whole week we had essentially ‘killed ‘ its potential.
I could go on and on about the many lessons my students have taught me, and someday I may, but for now, on this day, I just want to thank each and every student I have had the privilege of being with, for allowing me to observe and learn from their uncluttered, unbiased, accepting mind, that”Peace” is a way of being.
Happy Teachers’ day!
Priyadarshini Rajagopalan is an independent educational consultant and the Director of the Education for Peace initiative at Prajnya, Chennai. She also blogs at http://priteach.wordpress.com