This past Thursday, my friend and colleague, Althea, and I facilitated a presentation on nonviolence for a group 100 6-12 graders at the New School of Virginia. My friends and former colleague, Travis Cooper, invited us to give this workshops as part of a learning unit he was doing with his students looking at civic activism.
This was a great opportunity for Althea and I to mix concepts from various orientations and conceptions of nonviolence – the ICNC strategic nonviolent action orientation and the Kingian nonviolence orientation.
During the second session of American University’s summer 2013 semester, July 1st – August 15th, I taught an online version of my edu-596 Peace Pedagogy course. This course had approximately 13 students, all DC area teachers. The course description reads similar to the other EDU-596 courses that were taught on-site. However, a different pedagogical approach was taken given the online format. Click here to download syllabus.
The course was a blend of synchronous (weekly partnered phone conversations and three, all-class conference calls) and asynchronous learning (weekly discussion boards and daily peace actions). I also provided weekly videos or podcasts summarizing key questions and insights each of the students made in the discussion forums. The entire course was hosted on my customized website, http://peacelearner.org. This was an interested endeavor in that the in-person course, as one would expect, relies heavily on student participation, modeling, and face-to-face interactions and conversations . So, how was one to do this effectively online?
On July 16th and 17th, 2013 I helped organize and facilitate a 1.5 day intensive workshop for DC area teachers to learn about peace education programs and initiatives being implemented in the DC area. In this effort, I worked closely with Laurie Segel-Moss, Assistant Director of the Center for Peacebuilding and Development (CPD) and Maura Scully, Program Coordinator for the Mohammed Said Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace.
The purpose of the gathering was to elevate the peace education work that orgs, schools, and teachers are already doing throughout the DC area; escalate the work of peace education by integrating the skills, methods, and models developed by the featured organizations into the teachers’ educational practice, their classrooms, and schools; and spread these methods, models and programs to other teachers, classrooms and schools after experimenting with what was shared through this gathering.
I recently returned from a week-long advanced seminar in Kingian Nonviolence. While I was there I started seeing a lot of connections between principles of Kingian Nonviolence and principles of yoga that my partner, Alyson has been teaching me.
When I got home from this seminar I immediately sat down and read the Yamas and Niyamas, which are two of the eight branches of yoga. Alyson had encouraged me to read about these before attending the seminar and I wish I had because there is a lot of valuable crossover. This post is an email I sent out to the other 9 seminar participants upon returning home and reading the yamas and niyamas.
This week I had the opportunity to give a presentation and lead some exercises around peace education with a group of 35 high school students (9th and 10th graders) from two schools in Queens, NY. They were visiting DC as part of a Global Kids trip. Global Kids is an “educational organization for global learning and youth development – works to ensure that urban youth have the knowledge, skills, experiences and values they need to succeed in school, participate effectively in the democratic process, and achieve leadership in their communities and on the global stage.” This was a unique and valuable experience for a number of reasons I will outline below and I very much appreciated the time I got to spend with the students.
For the past ten days my colleague, Althea and I were in Phnom Penh where we facilitated two workshops on nonviolent civil resistance. We were invited by a diaspora based group called Khmer Unity whose mission is advocating for democracy, human rights, and territorial sovereignty/integrity in Cambodia. They network and collaborate with other nongovernmental organizations both domestically and internationally for the betterment of Cambodia.
This was an amazing experience for a number of reasons. First, this was my first time in Cambodia so I was constantly soaking up the history, culture, and environment while I was there. Second, the process of designing and facilitating a workshop on nonviolent action for learners whose mother tongue is Khmer – a language very different from English – posed some challenges that helped me and Althea think in new ways about how to talk and teach about the topic. And third, it was an opportunity that brought me into contact with so many amazing people who are organizing around a myriad of issues.
This past Tuesday my colleague, Althea Middleton-Detzner and I got the opportunity and privilege to give a presentation and have a discussion on civil resistance with a group of amazing Burmese civil society and political leaders. The four women in the delegation were Khin Lay, Shunn Lei Swe Yee, Ma Nilar OO, and Zin Mar Aung, who was a recipient the 2012 International Women of Courage Award. The United States Institute of Peace invited us to give the talk, which was part of a series of meetings with the delegation that focused on rule of law, governance and, of course, nonviolent political action (aka civil resistance).
From February 1-3, 50 students from around the country gathered in Albany, NY for the Democracy Matters Summit – an intensive and inspiring 2.5 days of learning about and strategizing around how to get big money out of politics and put people back in. This was my seventh Democracy Matters Summit. It is such a honor and privilege to be a part of this amazing organization and movement. Click the link below to see the curation of key tweets, photos, and audio recordings from the weekend.
This past weekend I attended and presented at the Ann Ferren Teaching Conference, which is a yearly conference held every January at American University. The last time I attended this conference was in 2010 and had gotten a lot out of it. This year I was invited to be a co-presenter for one of the sessions, “Finding Your First Flip: Getting Started with the Flipped Classroom Model. My co-presenters for this session were Maya Marato and Meghan Foster. The Goal for this session is to engage faculty in the process of “flipping” their lectures by helping them identify and evaluate topics and activities that are easily adapted to the flipped classroom model.
The above podcast was recorded on Wednesday, November 14th 2012 during the Peace Pedagogy (EDU-596) course I facilitate each year at American University. As a final assignment for the class I asked each student to develop what I called a “Peace Learner Commitment.” A Peace Learner Commitment is:
“…a pledge to yourself, and shared with our community, to achieve a goal that seeks to build and foster peaceable learning environments. This environment can be built in the classroom, your community, among your peers, with your family, in the work place, or for yourself. The choice is yours.
“The key is for an element of this course that resonated with you – skill, content, activity, attitude, technique, perspective, etc. – to bear fruit outside of the (tiny) classroom we shared this semester.”
In the podcast each student shares what their commitment is. And listening to this podcast, I can honestly say that it has been a privilege spending an entire semester with this outstanding, kind, and inspirational group of learners. The 14 students all came to the course for different reasons, with different needs, and from different professional and academic backgrounds. Given the diversity of the learning goals and needs, as the professor for the course I really had to give deep thought to what kinds of assignments were going to actually be useful to the class.