Teaching Peace to Our Young People
How do we teach peaceful living to children in a chaotic society? During these late summer days, when catechists, religious educators and youth ministers prepare for a new year of parish programs, it may be helpful to ponder this and similar questions about social concerns … as we seek to lead our students in the footsteps of Jesus.
A new resource for "teaching peaceful living" is Peacemakers: The New Generation. It is authored by Mary Fox and Claire Perez, two mothers, teachers and MRE’s in the Diocese of Rockford … whose efforts began by asking themselves the question at the top of this article. Claire and Mary furthered their vision for forming young peacemakers by realizing that " … as a society, we have unwittingly taught our children that violence is the norm. We have immersed them in violent language, surrounded them with violent images and modeled violent behavior … [and that] "as parents and educators, we knew that we could give our children different models. We could show them their value and purpose in the world."
The book is billed as a "How-To" Guide, compiled from summer Peace Camp lessons and activities they used in St. Charles and Woodstock beginning in 1996. While the manual is targeted for Grades 6-8, many of the activities can be used with or adapted for younger or older students.
Chapters in the book cover Self-Image, Respecting Dignity, Learning Compassion, Exploring Forgiveness, Effective Communication, Anger Management and Conflict Resolution. The 54 lesson plans and activities include a wide variety of both familiar and new games, crafts, skits and prayer services. These range from Circle of Peace and a skit called "Raindrops," which aims to teach the differences between charity and justice … to lessons using "Charades" and even Pig Latin in a "Cultural Bingo" game. Suggestions for journaling and taking action in the community ("Stepping Out As a Peacemaker") are included throughout the guide. All lesson plans note the purpose and the time and materials required, and 20 reproducible worksheets and posters are provided.
In endorsing the guide, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton writes, "Peacemakers: The New Generation could not be timelier. In a culture that breeds violence, in a time when children are accustomed to feeling insecure and threatened, this book teaches our youth that love, justice and peace are attainable realities." To order Peacemakers, contact E.T. NEDDER Publishing Warehouse by phone (877-817-2742) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Cost is $19.95 plus $5.00 postage and handling.
Other helpful resources for teaching peace and social justice concerns include: Justice and Service Ideas (part of the HELP Series from Saint Mary’s Press) by Joseph Grant (ISBN #0-88489-572-6), $19.95; The Kid’s Guide to Social Action (Free Spirit Publishing) by Barbara A. Lewis (ISBN #0-915793-29-6), $14.95; and Catholic Social Teaching: Learning and Living Justice (Ave Maria Press) by Michael Pennock, a comprehensive, full-year senior high textbook (ISBN #0-87793-698-6).
Please contact us in the Peace and Social Justice Office at email@example.com or 815-834-4028 at any time with your suggestions or needs on various social justice issues.
With our prayerful wishes for a fruitful and peace-filled year of religious education,
Mary Jeanne Lindinger-Olsen
Associate for Parish Outreach