Editor’s Note: Please see the previous blog post about Peace Jam
By Nicole Colchete, CEI Intern
One powerful way to prevent bullying is to educate students about diversity and guide students in thinking deeply and empathetically about their own actions. PeaceJam accomplishes this by guiding students in asking themselves meaningful questions such as:
- How can we mindfully express our feelings and ideas?
- How do our verbal and non-verbal expressions impact others?
- How do we raise awareness of personal roles and responsibilities?
- Why is it important to understand yourself before trying to understand others?
- What does discrimination look like on a personal level? A social level? An institutional level?
With PeaceJam, students are able to explore their own passions for a wide range of issues, which may be just what they need as they are going through their own challenges concerning issues of inclusion, integration, identity and self-acceptance. In an environment where challenges and negative situations are fuel for positive change, in-depth discussion and growth, bullying cannot exist. PeaceJam strives to create this environment in every school it impacts.
The Compassion in Action Curriculum
More specifically, one curriculum PeaceJam uses for bullying prevention is Compassion in Action, which prepares students to live with compassion in a multicultural world by exploring issues of diversity from personal, social, and institutional perspectives. This is achieved by combining education (lessons and discussion) with inspiration (teaching students about different Nobel Peace Prize Laureates) and Action (creating a service project together or taking a PeaceJam compassion challenge together). Here are examples of what this curriculum would look like:
Case Study of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
|Empathy & Compassion||
|The Dalai Lama from Tibet and his struggle against discrimination based on religion.||Taking the following challenges:
|Identity & Difference||
||Desmond Tutu from South Africa and his struggle against discrimination based on sexual orientation.||
||Rigoberta Menchu Tum from Guatemala and her struggle against prejudice based on being indigenous.||
But how can a program that doesn’t address bullying directly prevent it? Shouldn’t more time be spent on discussing bullying? Are diversity curriculum and anti-bullying curriculum different? School bullying is prevented by discussing bullying at school, not in the world, right? Can teaching these topics really work?
I believe they can. This curriculum gets straight to the point. It applies the consequences of bullying, and conversely the impact of compassion, to a captivating real-world context. This curriculum is so successful because it comes from an in-depth understanding as to why people bully in the first place. People bully because of:
- Pent up anger
- Not understanding differences
- Feelings of isolation
- Feelings of blame
- Dealing with pressure
- Fear of inferiority
The PeaceJam curriculum gets to the root of the problem by exploring these reasons and teachers positive and productive ways to combat these issues. PeaceJam makes it clear that bullying or mistreating others is not a lasting way to combat one’s own challenges with self-acceptance, rather they can permanently overcome these issues by learning to accept themselves through helping and accepting others.
In high school, it is all about cliques and about belonging. This culture is a breeding ground for bullying, which is why it is such a serious issue in schools. PeaceJam combats this culture by connecting students with bigger issues and allow them to impact bigger causes outside of their high school. This helps students feel empowered and hopeful. This inspires students to reach out to others who are struggling with alienation, while simultaneously providing a safe and empowering space for those struggling students.