Living, Learning, and Teaching Peace
Stephanie Knox Cubbon
“I hope that someday we won’t even need to say ‘peace education,’ that it will simply be education – that there will be education for all, and that all education will be education for peace.”
Imagine a world in which our children go to school and learn to communicate peacefully, to embrace diversity, to promote equality and human rights, to resolve conflict creatively, to live sustainably and with compassion. We can create that world – by introducing peace education into our schools and communities.
If “war begins in the minds of men,” as the UNESCO constitution proposes, then it is through our minds – through education – that war must be eradicated, and peace must be instilled. I see peace education as the tool for this, and I see it as something everyone can do. We all have the power to be leaders for peace and teachers of peace, in our homes, communities, and the wider world. We all have the choice to live our lives peacefully, and in turn to model peaceful behavior for others to follow. We all have the ability to share peaceful living practices with others, and to engage in dialogue in our community about issues relating to peace, justice, diversity, and equality. We all have the power to be teachers and leaders for peace – we simply need to answer the calling.
My own path to peace education seems logical in hindsight, though the various elements that led me there seemed like separate tangents in my life when they were happening. In college, I discovered the practice of yoga, which began my quest for cultivating personal peace. I also spent a semester in Panama, which transformed my worldview in many ways, as I experienced the kindness of strangers who had little but would give everything. Wanting to give back, I enrolled in the Peace Corps and was posted in Niger, where I worked extensively in educational projects, ranging from cross-cultural activities with local schools, to radio programming, to HIV/AIDS awareness.
Upon leaving Niger, I became less concerned about my career choices, and more concerned about simply living my life in a way that caused as little harm as possible, and my practices were primarily focused on inner peace. I became a certified yoga teacher so that I could share this practice with others. I then set out on a journey that would take me to Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, where, as an English teacher, I discovered my real passion for teaching. Through my travels, I was struck by the true similarities of the human experience –that whether we grow up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, a mud hut in Niger, or an apartment in Tokyo, we mostly want the same things: to spend time with our families and friends, to have good food, to love, to have peace in our lives.
A pivotal moment came while volunteering at a conference in Tokyo, the Article 9 Conference to Abolish War. As I stood in the giant arena, listening to the keynote speaker, Cora Weiss, the President of the Hague Appeal for Peace, I thought, “What could possibly be better than dedicating my life and career to peace?” Energized, I went home from that event determined to make peace a career path rather than just a personal practice.
When I discovered the Peace Education program at the University for Peace, it felt like every step I had taken up to this point was a logical step towards peace education. While studying at UPEACE, I found Teachers Without Borders (TWB), and through my work with TWB, I have been able to realize my dream to promote peace in the world, and to put my studies of peace education into action.
At Teachers Without Borders, we seek to create a peaceful world by bringing peace education training to a global audience through our Professional Development Program on Peace Education. As a Peace Education intern with TWB, I have been working to develop the program, along with a team of other interns and TWB staff members. The project aims to train teachers in peace education practices and principles so that they can bring peace education into their classrooms, schools, and communities. We provide extensive lesson plans and resources for teachers to immediately take action. We have integrated some of the best peace education resources available with the hopes of bringing them to a wider audience. The program will be available free online, and we will also be organizing in-person trainings around the world, starting with post-conflict areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. We believe that by investing in teachers, we invest in their communities. One teacher at a time, we hope to create a ripple effect, spreading a culture of peace through education throughout the world.
While everyone can be a teacher and leader for peace, school teachers – those whose professional vocation is education – have a particularly important role to play in building a culture of peace. Simply by choosing to serve, teachers have demonstrated their leadership and their desire to create change in their communities. By bringing peace education into their schools, they can effect peaceful change on a large scale. Teachers can be peace leaders by modeling peaceful behavior in their classrooms – such as through peaceful communication, celebrating diversity, promoting nonviolent conflict resolution and transformation. By bringing peace education into the curriculum, they empower learners to be agents of positive change.
Our program is emerging, and we will launch it sometime in October. Meanwhile, we have started to put the word out – and I am utterly amazed by the response! Just a few days after our first blog posting, we have received dozens of emails from people in all corners of the world, people who want to take the program, to be involved, to participate, who are excited about peace education. It seems like people are hungry for peace education, that the world is ready for it. On one hand, this is indicative of the state of the world right now – that peace is not yet the norm, and there is much work to be done. However, the response indicates the growing momentum for promoting peace, and it is exciting that so many people are ready to make a change.
I hope that through the TWB Peace Education Program, we can bring peace education to the widest audience possible. Please help us by spreading the word, and stay tuned for the announcement in October about the official launch. I hope that someday we won’t even need to say “peace education,” that it will simply be education – that there will be education for all, and that all education will be education for peace.
For more information on the TWB Peace Education Program, visit: http://teacherswithoutborders.org/blog/new-program-peace-education
To contact Stephanie, please email: email@example.com or visit her blog at