First impressions can mean everything. Committed to establishing from day one that my classroom would be about exploring peace and peacebuilding, I decided to establish a "baseline" with a written response to the question of "What kinds of things do you think cause conflict or violence in our world and our communities?" I was so pleased with much of the thinking that I got in response. The kids identified alcohol, drugs, gangs, sexism, racism, stereotypes, oil, war, poverty, miscommunication and "trying to change people" all as possible causes of conflict. They also even asked if conflict had to always be thought of as a negative thing, leading to some disucssion of nonviolent conflict. I hope that laid some good groundwork for looking at the lives of men and women like MLK and Gandhi.
Tomorrow we'll take the next step and do some written reflection and discussion on what then can be done about violent conflict? I also have an article that profiled kids from several places around the world (including a U.S. city) working against the violence in their communities.