Students explore peace and justice following Ukraine invasion
The horrific events occurring in Ukraine are weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of many of our students, just as they are for teachers and parents. This week I visited a Middle School classroom where students in a Life Skills class were talking about the situation in Ukraine. The class sat in a circle sharing their own writings and illustrations on what peace means to them. I was deeply moved by their thoughtful statements, articulated with beauty and clarity and expressing the important role we each have in being active peacemakers in our communities, courageously standing for justice and freedom as the basis for creating the conditions necessary for peace.
This Life Skills class meets once a week. The current focus on Diversity is a seven-week unit taught by Beatriz Mueller, the school’s Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. The purpose of this particular unit is to foster inclusion, awareness, and community building, as well as to prepare our students to thrive in a diverse society.
Last week, the discussion about the situation in Ukraine included a brief history of the region, why the war started, why it is wrong, and the sanctions imposed by many countries around the world. The class ended with students being asked to prepare a written or artistic statement explaining what peace means to them.
I asked the teacher to share her own observations about these two classes. She told me, “I learned that students crave peace in their daily lives at home, at school, with friends, and in the world around them. They are smart and self-aware, sharing specific ideas for how to work towards peace with others, how to create peaceful environments, and how to strengthen their own inner peace.”
As a next step to this discussion, the students will write a class agreement where each student, individually and collectively, will take ownership for creating an environment at school where they can learn in a collaborative framework.