Creators of Peace Circle November 2019

What would it mean to be a creator of peace in your own life, family, community, country and world?

We are inviting friends and colleagues to join a Creators of Peace Circle during the last weekend of November 2019.

For nearly 30 years, Creators of Peace (CofP) has been bringing together women from all backgrounds, ages and cultures who seek empowerment, inspiration and hope in our current global contexts.

Come and participate, learn, discuss, grow, share stories and explore how you can be a creator of peace.

Programme:

  • Friday 29th November:      6.30pm – 9.30pm: Peace Circle Session I & Supper
  • Saturday 30th November:  9.30am – 6.30pm: Peace Circle Session II
  • Sunday 1st December:        9.30am – 3.30pm: Peace Circle Session III

Venue:
Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP),
199 Preston Road, Brighton, East Sussex,
BN1 6SA United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1273 555022

Colleagues from CofP will facilitate a ‘talking circle’, where all voices are respectfully heard, establishing shared values which will allow the group to explore diverse perspectives on topics such as:

  • What is peace?
  • Circles of concern and hope
  • What builds and destroys peace?
  • Qualities and strategies of a peacemaker
  • Inner Peace
  • Inner Listening
  • Listening to others
  • The power of forgiveness
  • Putting peace into action

This Circle will be hosted by the GHFP and the programme is offered free of charge, sponsored by the GHFP and Creators of Peace volunteers.

Spaces are limited, please email events@ghfp.org to request a booking form.

Download flyer for more details here: GHFP_Creators-of-Peace_Nov-Dec2019

5-step-peace-process

The following 5-step towards peace process has been developed by the GHFP’s trustee Alexandra Asseily.

Step One: Taking Responsibility
The first step is to take responsibility for one’s own part in any conflict, imbalance, tension, grievance or problem with courage, honesty, and humility, even if one does not feel personally involved in conflict.

Step Two: Asking and Reflecting
The second step is to ask a number of questions, examples are given in ‘my responsibility for peace’.

Step Three: Releasing, surrendering and forgiving
The third step is to understand the power of forgiveness and compassion. By understanding and allowing for forgiveness of oneself and others, including our ancestors and our collective past, we can let go of guilt, shame and fear. We then no longer need to uphold the same grievances from one generation to another. As we forgive others, we forgive ourselves and vice-versa.

Step Four: To understand our authentic selves
The fourth step is to understand the changes we can make in order and speak with our ‘inner’ cohesive authority and thereby helping us to promote harmony and peace in the world.

Step Five: Sharing
The fifth step is to go out and share this healing process with others.

Practising this process can transform ourselves, others and our communities.

Read more on our work in forgiveness, reconciliation, peace

Yes Quest

Yes Quest

The GHFP has been a long-term sponsor of the YES Quest, a youth-centred project that aims to offer young people time, space and nurturing to enable them to embark on an inner and an outer journey of transformation.

The inner journey takes a young person into a deep personal development experience. With skilled support, they will face their past, fears and explore the treasures and talents within and develop the confidence and commitment to fully express them in life and work. The outer journey gives the young person the opportunity to activate this new awareness, honour the inner change and take that first step!

In a time when there are many pressures from the media, parents, teachers, music, friends, religion, the YES Quest can help create young people seek clarity in terms of how they should be to live a good life in the world and what they could do to make their life meaningful.

International Peace Dialogue Series

In 2015-2016, the GHFP and partners launched a three-part dialogue series in order to explore the nature of peace and how to apply this understanding in the process of creating a global culture of peacefulness.

The first dialogue was hosted by the GHFP in December 2015 in East Sussex, England. This dialogue was specifically concerned with building structural peace and took our innate peacefulness as a given. Therefore the focus was on the structures, systems and institutional cultures required to bring about a common political vision of peace as well as on identifying particular practices of peace and peacefulness which could lead to the transformation of individuals and communities internationally and globally.

The second dialogue, held at the Fetzer Institute in June 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, explored the nature of peacefulness from its spiritual dimension and consider the realities within a given local context, such as communities, that might support the practice of peacefulness. A distinct theme is transformation through a spiritual pathway and how it might inspire us to live our lives from the inside out in more peaceful ways and towards a global transition from separation and fear to interconnection, oneness and love.

The third dialogue took place in October 2016 in Reykjavik as part of the inaugural seminar of Reykjavik Centre for Peace and the celebration of 30th anniversary of Regan and Gorbachev meeting in Reykjavik. It sought to investigate features of peaceful governance and international policies of a peaceful state. Important questions, such as ‘How might we express the spiritual depths of peacefulness within a systemic context, such as a city or a nation?’ and ‘What are the criteria for a city or a nation and its institutions to be deservedly counted as peaceful?’ were posed in this dialogue to understand political processes, including the responsibilities of individuals, institutions and communities, that contribute to the collective intention of peace.

This dialogue series led to a book entitled ‘Peacefulness: Being Peace and Making Peace’, published by the Spirit of Humanity Press in 2018.

Hungarian Life Histories Research

Recognising the urgency of the fact that that unless historical traumas are processed and healed by one generation, they are passed on to the next, and realising that 20th century ideologies in Hungary have shaped individuals’ life paths and that political conflicts have prepared the ground for continuing violence by representing the ‘other’ as less than human, the GHFP has embarked on a research project that aims to get behind the ideological masks of people and restore their human faces.

Overseen by the GHFP’s Vice Chairman, Sharif Istvan Horthy, the research seeks to construct a space for telling and listening to life stories of ordinary Hungarian people who come from different backgrounds and generations. This life history and narrative process is intended to help unfold how Hungarians see themselves and their recent collective past, and what being Hungarian means to them in the 21st Century.

This life history project is itself an action research. It aims to reflect on the narrative processes and the participants’ experiences of change in their perception of self-identity, their stories and the ways they see others and the socio-economic and political situations in Hungary. In this way, the research methodology, especially through non-judgmental and open listening, seems to have enabled the participants to discover the underlying causes of current (social and political) attitudes. Whilst encouraging the participants to narrate their own lives and listen and attend to the stories of others, this action research is offering an opportunity for the community to re-vision Hungary’s social future. Those individuals who took part in the research project have acknowledged being able to see a close connection between retelling and sharing personal experiences and perspectives, and reconciling these with past traumas and the ways in which they can move forward in life and work.

Deep Dialogue

Deep Dialogue is one of the concepts that the GHFP has been developing. It features the following:

  • Deep Dialogue is valuable in itself which means that it is not instrumental.
  • Deep Dialogue contains an implicit commitment to the equal value (and reality) of all persons.
  • Deep Dialogue requires being willing to enter this space of the other.
  • Deep Dialogue processes are aimed at transforming the basic self-identifications that would otherwise permit the formation of antagonistic social identities. It can enable the person to self-identify non-derivatively in more spiritual ways, that is as human.
  • Deep Dialogue consists in transformative sharing, and the aim of such listening and sharing is that people can transcend the victim and aggressor dichotomy as part of a healing process. If it is successful, this may express itself as some form of forgiveness, but it need not. Entering a deep dialogue doesn’t require the powerless to deny these injustices nor to forgive them.
  • Deep Dialogue makes spiritual ‘we’-ness possible which can engender a deep connection with one’s own and the others’ common humanity.
  • Deep Dialogue processes can enable people to explore together the roots of violence at micro and macro levels.
  • Deep Dialogue can encourage people who were formerly in antagonistic relations to explore violence as symptoms of deeper systemic causes, and imagine institutional, cultural and even structural shifts toward positive peacefulness.

 

Mapping Healing

Under the leadership of UNESCO’s Slave Routes Project, the GHFP is working with Georgetown University to launch a research project with an aim to map out the diverse conceptions and methodologies of healing (mass trauma such as genocide and slavery). This research locates the inquiry around the contextualised question: “What might constitute healing (in the context of the wounds of trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery)?”

This commitment highlights the necessity for such an inquiry especially given the kinds of harm and woundedness that need to be attended and addressed through healing processes. It argues why a mapping research should be designed as a mixed-methods investigation, and outlines the details of the intended research processes.

It is hoped that the research can help identify pointers towards a conceptual and methodological framework for understanding healing of the wounds from mass trauma of trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery.

Further to this please refer to https://healingthewoundsofslavery.org/

Healing the Wounds of Slavery aims at healing and addressing the wounds and psycho-social, economic and political consequences of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slave history. The hope is to create pathways towards personal, cultural, relational and institutional transformation.

Well-being in schools

On Wednesday 20th March, the GHFP’s Human-Centred Education team will welcome local secondary school’s Well-Being Leaders and Coordinators from across Brighton and Hove to join us for a twilight seminar on “A Whole School Approach to Well-Being in Secondary Schools“.

The seminar offers an opportunity to explore and share good practices on well-being and inclusion and to make links with local colleagues. It will begin with an inspiring keynote from Professor Colleen McLaughlin, Director of Education Innovation at the University of Cambridge, to spark discussion and raise pertinent questions. This will be followed by facilitated open dialogue and sharing, through which participants will be encouraged to develop a rich understanding and awareness of critical issues relating to student (and staff) well-being in secondary schools.

More about the Seminar see here.

Ethical education

INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON ETHICAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS
Held at Highley Manor, 9-10 May 2017.
Discussion notes.

Introduction:

Globally, we confront an ethical crisis. On the one hand, for vast sectors of the culture we find an erosion in commitments to ethical values. In part this may be traced to the general secularisation of the culture (and the concomitant attrition in religious belief), and the rise of relativism. One might say there appears to be no right or wrong outside what the law requires and no purpose outside the self-serving. On the other hand, in other cultural enclaves, we find a hardening of traditional moral commitments. The secular shift of society places their commitments in increasing jeopardy. Here the resources are lacking for accepting and appreciating differences.

At the same time, in a world increasingly marked by indifference and sound bites, some people can be profoundly ignorant and unaware of how different the viewpoints, perceptions, experiences and emotions of others can be from one’s own, as if living in hermeneutical bubbles. There is much divisiveness and uncertainties in our societies: some people can be totally unconcerned about the suffering and plight of others, resulting in a general attitude of apathy and uncaring while others may flounder without compass in the face of multiple and competing values.

Educational institutions have played a major role in the erosion and uncaring, with their growing emphasis on information transfer (facts over interpretation), instrumentalisation (learning for the sake of career/monetary gains) and individualism (in various forms of self-absorption). In effect, there are few opportunities for ethical development in the public educational systems. There may be ethics, values and moral education components to the curriculum but these tend to be focused on imparting information about social issues and teaching moral reasoning. They do not necessarily help young people overcome the complex hermeneutical, epistemological and relational challenges of today.

In this context, we believe there is a case for a renewed interest in considering the possibilities and potentials of ethical education and ethical relationships in our schools, and called for an international seminar on ‘Ethical Education in Schools’ held in Highley Manor, England on 9-10 May 2017. The participants and contributors of the seminar are distinguished scholars in the field of education, philosophy, social sciences and dialogue. The main question posed during the Seminar was: “What changes in educational institutions would be essential in helping students to become more ethically aware, sensitive and motivated?” To explore this question, the discussions were divided into three parts: the first part was about the principles or ideas that we need to effectively approach the main question; the second part was to seek the general pedagogical guidelines or values that we need to articulate, and the third part was to survey and imagine the practices and processes in primary and secondary schools that might be directly relevant to our main question.

The following pages aim to capture some of the emergent insights from the seminar.

Our thoughts around the Seminar’s general question..

Education, with its focus on individual performance and attainment, can easily indulge self-absorption and instrumentalise learning. Therefore, for learning to be situated within relationships and for students to be less self-obsessed and more open to others, and to experience and express care for each other and for the world, the classrooms and the overall learning environment within schools must be where ethics is located. Schools must provide pedagogical conditions and curricula activities for nurturing caring relationships.

An ethical problem emerges when there is presence of differences and when we negotiate how to engage with differences. This can mean both becoming open to others who are different, and resolving our ignorance about the others. However, traditional epistemology tends to do with correcting false beliefs or errors in our knowledge but not dealing with ignorance. Hence the necessity for dialogue without giving up on oneself, which is incommensurable. The idea of strong and weak subjectivity points to dialogical subjectivity (in-between the two) which implies that people should co-create with others.

The fundamental educational question is about how to engage young people in dialogue with respect and appreciation of differences. Agency is a form of receiving, to receive the other, it is necessary to confirm oneself. The ethical is also about the existential and spiritual, such as longing for a good life. Human vulnerability suggests an opportunity to be open to the other. An articulation of our vulnerability is needed for the reorientation of the spiritual. Educational settings are communities for the sharing of vulnerability, they are spaces for sharing imagination – an inter-human exchange. Turning oneself outwardly towards others, a recognition of our sacredness.

There are three points of contention

First, self-other dichotomy could presuppose individualism which relies on ideas of persons as bounded entities, separated by boundaries. Likewise, although phenomenology starts with the ‘I’, experience itself is actually public (eg. pain in a boxing ring and pain from being beaten in the street). The notion of ‘I’ is quite different in different contexts. Therefore, the self must be conceived relationally rather than individually.

Second, although ethics is about creating the good, something worth living for, this in turn presupposes the idea of bad or evil and in that sense the ethical project could be dangerous. Educational practices (eg. through grading) already contain an implicit ethics of good and bad that are secularised and corrosive. Thus we need dialogue but without putting the individual at the forefront, co-creating and co-constructing the idea of goodness in the community.

Third, in western countries where moral ethics are no longer provided by religions and faith traditions, the ignorance of religion and faith can also increase the clashes between people about ethics. However, diversity requires value pluralism and a pedagogy of difference so that students can appreciate diversity more deeply. We need dialogue without clashes. For education to move towards a human-centred focus, it needs to reconstruct our values system and reconsider relationships in schools.

Theoretical principles of ethical education

The world is broken partly due to the fact that our socio-political structure instrumentalise people and we tend to treat each other as objects (eg, the way we place people into roles and functions and only treat them as so). Therefore we must consider the relational nature of our being, and that to be is to be with others and participate in each other’s being.

Ignorance isn’t only the lack of knowledge; it can also be the lack of caring for an area of knowledge. Ignorance of others can be a form of uncaring. This is important for our understanding of the epistemology of human relationships – to know others is to open ourselves to others in a caring way, and vice verse. (Aristotle’s approach to ethics through character education may seem to be seeking universality. Ethical education is more expansive, it is about learning to care.

There has to be tension in the principles, for example, between the uniqueness and interdependency, because uniqueness implies pluralism. Values can be divisive (eg. British values in British schools), so we should emphasise human values as opposed to Christian, Islamic or British values. This doesn’t mean humanism which can exclude other traditions.

It is necessary to decide on the scale of the ethical education project, eg. to address the spread of individualism and the ethical at a political level.

The ethical lies in the process, one of generating a future together, a common future for all.

Pedagogical Principles of Ethical Education

Ethical education in schools should not be isolated programmes. In the light of schools currently being designed as performance-based systems, ethical learning requires a holistic transformation of what school is, including a shared understanding of what it means for a school to be good. In the same vein, we must stress that the desirable relationship is the generative kind that helps create community in which people can dialogue about different views of the good.

A starting point would be mapping the sites for ethical education in existing schools. We need to look at the totality of school experience as young people learn from their whole school experience, including educational vision, ethos, pedagogy, curriculum, overall environment and encompassing relationships, as well as some of the programmes and projects. For instance, how do we teach, eg. literature, arts, science, in ethically and relationally enriching ways? How do we construct participatory spaces? (How did young people learn to uncare? How do they become less participatory?) The ethical concerns not just the relationship between teachers and students, it is also located in the relationship between children and young people themselves, as well as amongst other stakeholders in the community.

Mapping out ethical spaces can help schools identify their own ethical focus and determine their own processes, inviting a more participatory and collaborative project. We will need alternative language and discourse to speak about the ethical. Such language and discourse can only emerge from within the community and cannot be imposed from outside or predetermined by experts. Listening is a key, which applies to both teachers and students. It is really important to have a space for children and young people’s voices within a school. The space cannot be window-dressing, but needs to be well-framed, with content.
It is necessary to reconceptualise what learning is. Current focus on knowledge acquisition in education urges us to consider what knowledge is. One point to consider is that knowledge isn’t propositional, it can be something that we create together.

We need to move away from the idea that ethical education is only about religion or religious studies. However, ethical education could include components of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and encounter.

Dialogue requires an equality between the interlocutors, the students and the teachers, so that all are respected as human beings. In dialogue learning, teachers are sometimes facilitators which would require different skills and sensitivities as well as a different way of being with the students (eg. the teacher is no longer the all-knowing.). This suggests that teacher training would allow an element of facilitators’ training. In the light of teachers’ vulnerability, the training will also nurture their courage to be a facilitator. One idea is to have contemplative workshops for teachers, not to teach contemplation but for teachers to experience how ethics can affect their teaching. Arts-based practice and learning through restorative justice can also support the ethical, both for the teachers and the students.

Young people will need protected space to explore their feelings, emotions, attitudes and relations. The teachers’ task here is to hold this space without too much directing or guiding. In this sense, sharing could be better than dialogue because it is more natural.

Providing opportunities for the students to decide how to present learning tasks and evaluate learning is part of the ethical (eg. students writing about their lives in formats of their choice). Such pedagogical practices are more empowering, and are conducive to developing ethical relations among the students and between the students and the teacher.

Practices of ethical education in schools

Ethical education focuses on building schools as spiritual communities. Good ethical education initiatives must: (a) touch the teachers’ attitudes and judgement (and is hence more empowering); (b) transform the student’s experiences (eg. increased respect for others); and (c) enable a buy-in from school leaders.

The school environment is a key, including the physical, social, emotional and overall relational environments. Mapping out these ethical spaces in schools can enable these spaces to be underpinned by sensitivity and aesthetics. They must be integral to school life.

The ethical educational project is about constructing ethical spaces that are relevant for students’ current experiences in schools and for our world today. In particular, we need more creative language to talk about this kind of education. We need to give names to these ethical spaces and work with teachers, students and others to co-create them.

It is equally important to offer teachers the kind of ethical space considered for young people (eg. dealing with bullying). Such spaces must be defined by the school and not detached from the normal practices of the school. For example, INSET days could offer rich spaces to explore the ethical, including the teachers’ own experiences of relationships.
The ethical must also apply to how learning is evaluated and reviewed so that evaluative practices continue to support the relational. This would be in total contrast to the individualist approach to testing which is not only oppressive, but also destroys relationships.

The power of examples through stories of good practices is highlighted. For instance:

(1) Two circles in a history class, the inner and outer. When a student has something to say, he/she moves to the inner circle, and can then offer the space for others to contribute by moving to the outer circle. This class demonstrates listening, engaging, giving voice.
(2) Counselling as a relational practice. Ethical spaces are defined by boundaries which are necessary for people to feel safe. A buddy system means that the students or the teachers can support each other in working through personal struggles through relational support.
(3) “Educating Together” in Ireland. This is an independent NGO that runs schools that guarantee equality of access and esteem to children “irrespective of their social, cultural or religious background”, are learner-centred in their approach to education and are run as participatory democracies, with respectful partnership between parents, pupils and staff. They are part of the state system. (https://www.educatetogether.ie/)
(4) Child Friendly Schools in China, supported by UNICEF. The project supports quality relationships, child well-being and whole-person learning. This is an illustration of shifting from a competitive approach to learning to learning to care. Other examples include democratic schools in Israel, in particular the bilingual Arab-Israeli schools.
(5) Play as an excellent way for children to learn ethically, eg. swimming together. The ethical is extended to beyond the boundary of the school, into the families, and other informal learning spaces. Play equally strengthens the relationships amongst children and adults.

Viewing it in this way, it would seem that in ethical education, the relational really matters. In other words, our project is to explore relational ecology.

Proposed ways forward

There was overwhelming enthusiasm to continue this dialogue and discussion about ethical education in schools. The group proposed four follow-up activities:

1. Re-Grouping: The proposal is to regroup at a later date to continue the conversation. The GHFP is willing to convene and host a second meeting.

2. Writing: The decision is to put together a collection of our articles and write the introductions and conclusions to the book collectively. Scherto and Garrett have been tasked to write a book proposal for the consideration of the Cambridge University Press’ series on innovation in international education.

3. Partnership: The idea is to find strategic leverages of change for developing ethical education in schools, such as working with UNESCO, and with schools including the Child Friendly Schools in China, the Educate Together schools in Ireland, and the teacher training programme in Israel.

4. Research: The suggestion is that at a later stage, we might apply for research grants to explore the ethical education case studies in these partners.