Introductory Lesson on Interconnectedness
Helping students understand the idea of interconnectedness, and that the conflict they encounter in their lives is relevant to the conflict occurring in their community, country and world. Students should explore the idea that conflict is universal and that nonviolence is accessible to people of all ages, races, religions, etc.
On the chalkboard, write the word 'conflict.' Students should help to generate a working definition of what conflict means, what it sounds like, what it feels like, where it happens and any other relevant contributions for creating a written description of what this word means. Hint: Many times, students will respond with negative comments about conflict. Try to prime them with a question about whether or not conflict can be positive as well. Colman McCarthy, founder of the Center for Teaching Peace, says that conflict is a neutral word that just means, "Something has to change."
After brainstorming the definition of 'conflict', move to defining 'violence'. Ask students if the two words are interchangeable or if they mean different things. One important point to make is that no one is exempt from conflict; you can do this by asking if anyone is currently experiencing any kind of conflict, or if anyone has ever experienced any kind of conflict.
Finally, write the word 'nonviolence' on the chalkboard. Ask students what they first think of when they see this word. Many times students will respond by saying, "It's the opposite of violence." Others will equate nonviolence with passivity. Sometimes students are perplexed by this word, and it is helpful to start with a dictionary definition. One important element which helps to delineate the difference between violence and nonviolence is that the dynamic of violence is very simple: one force overpowering another. Nonviolence, on the other hand, inherently invites creativity and responding with solutions "outside the box."
|The final element to this exercise involves a spiralling diagram. Start by labelling a point on the chalkboard with the word "me". What kinds of conflict and/or violence can an individual personally experience? Common answers are conflict within oneself, with parents, friends, teachers, significant others, coaches, bosses, etc. Write the responses on the board, and once that list is exhausted, draw a spiral around those words and label another point "my community". Where does violence occur in the community? At school? In the neighbourhood? With the police or other local authorities? Are there instances of environmental violence or conflict in the area? Are there particular issues which involve community conflict? Interesting responses have been road rage, pollution, domestic violence, gang activity, and police brutality, but by no means is this a comprehensive list.|
Draw another spiral around those responses, and label another point "my country". Where is there violence in the country? What kinds of situations, like child labour, poverty, freedom of speech and assembly, weapons making, and homelessness, can the students identify as being conflicts within their country?
Finally, draw the final spiral around these responses, and mark a point labelled "my world". Have students list conflicts or instances of violence transpiring across the globe. Students often list conflicts in terms of wars, i.e. where violence is actively occurring. Encourage them to think about what wars mean for the people involved. This part of the exercise should provide the final visual component for the students to recognize that the conflicts they experience on a personal level spiral outward to a global level.
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