Jody Steiger, a student from the ‘Educating for the 21st Century’ course offered June 2012, shares her experience on how this course reinforced the idea that by working together with a common objective, small changes can be achieved.
Among the emails I opened one day last April was one from the University for Peace Centre for Executive Education announcing the Educating for the 21st Century course. This isn’t usual for me. As chairman of the board of an NGO that incorporates the arts in formal and non-formal education, I receive so many messages that I often toss non-solicited ones to the trash. Happily, something about this one caught my attention. And that has made all the difference.
Another board member, our executive director and I perused the course material and decided it reflected our philosophy of education; participation could lead us in an exciting direction of professional growth and learning.
The first day of the seminar we were asked: “What is peace”? A Costa Rican colleague suggested peace is having a place to live, basic food, the ability to send one’s children to school and health care. Immediately, the participant from India said: “No, peace is not being afraid to go out on the street”. And then the participant from Nigeria sent a chill to my heart commenting: “Peace is not being killed for being a Christian.” If all I gleaned from the seminar was this one experience it would have been enough, for it reaffirmed the urgency of seeing the world through the eyes of others. As the week progressed, the learning multiplied. Mohit Mukherjee, Executive Director and course facilitator, modeled his pedagogy, rather than merely speaking of it, demonstrating peace education in action.
We read, we discussed, we shared meals, and most importantly we shared our experiences of steps being taken around the world to develop new strategies for education. A group of twelve women representing countries as diverse as Mexico and Australia, India and Guatemala, Nigeria and Costa Rica, the United States and Venezuela, we respected our diversity, appreciated and celebrated it. We realized that with the help of this course, and others offered by the University for Peace, we could continue our work, our efforts, our dreams to create new possibilities in education.
That realization, together with the efforts we all make, no matter how small, reaffirm Riane Eisler’s idea that throughout history, truly fundamental changes in our societies come about, not from governmental dictate or the results of armed conflict, but rather through the small changes that many, many people throughout the world make toward the same objective.
This course has united us in the continual making of these small changes toward a new education for the 21st Century.