Archive for the ‘education’ tag
from The New York Times
by Sharon Otterman
The psychology graduate student ran a wooden stick across the edge of a Tibetan Buddhist singing bowl on Tuesday and asked the five homeless young men sitting in front of him to listen to the undulating sound, and to raise their hands when they could no longer hear it. One by one hands went up, until well after the sound had seemed to dissipate.
Then the student asked the men to take long breaths and to visualize themselves not in their current circumstances — living in transitional housing near the Lincoln Tunnel — but as their “best selves.” With eyes closed, the young men pictured those best selves loving their present selves. Then they visualized sending that love across the room, first to one of the other men, then to all of them.
After 15 minutes, they opened their eyes. They were still in a fluorescent-lighted conference room at Covenant House with a few plants, a coffee machine and a microwave. But their faces were relaxed. Over the course of 16 weeks of group therapy and meditation, a bond had formed among them, the young men said, one that they said filled them with a sense of possibility.
by Steven Shashoua
from Common Ground News Service
London – Girls in headscarves is not exactly what you would expect to see walking through the doors of a Catholic school in London. Yet for young people living in London today interfaith encounters are not as rare as they used to be.
While opportunities to meet people from other cultures are increasingly common, meaningful learning doesn’t always follow and they don’t necessarily bring about positive shifts in attitudes and real social change.
Over the past 15 years at the London-based Three Faiths Forum (3FF), we have developed models for creating understanding between people of different faiths and beliefs, with a particular focus on students and young people. For the last three years we have been creating links between different faith schools – some 50 in total – through our Faith School Linking programme.
At a school linking event, two or three classes from different faith schools will meet in the morning. Participating students divide into small groups and begin a task, like creating an art project, or sharing a story. They look at each other with some curiosity and hesitation at first, as they meet people very different from themselves.
Listen to the following podcast from CPWR Board Emeritus Trustee Audrey E. Kitagawa, entitled “Our Sacred Journey,” regarding Spiritual- and Values-Based Education for Global Peace, on the VoiceAmerica website.
by Fran Talbot
from The Guardian
It was 8:15am. I stood, chopping melons, in a 60 year old Chinese dress. Outside, some unusually dour northern weather was doing its utmost best to turn Benton Park School into a lake. The Year 7s were practically having to swim past the school gates and the Brazilian samba band looked incredibly nostalgic for the golden sun of Rio.
Okay, so the last paragraph sounds like the start of a low budget disaster movie, but it was in fact the start of Benton Park’s famous World Religions Day!
I love World Religions Day. It’s the crazy brain child of Benton’s Religious Studies and Philosophy department, and Head Teacher Mr Foley. Conceived four years ago in an attempt to bring cultural diversity to Benton Park, it has been a roaring success right from the start.
by Simran Jeet Singh
from State of Formation
It’s not uncommon for kids to ask their parents about “that thing” on my head.
In most instances, the parents look at me uncomfortably, embarrassed that I might be offended in some way. I’ll usually acknowledge their discomfort with an awkward smile before looking away and pretending not to notice as they try to discretely shush their kids.
But recently I had the most amazing experience. I walked into the elevator of my apartment building in Manhattan and — despite knowing New York etiquette — I couldn’t help but smile at the two little girls standing with their young mother. The girls were wearing matching, polka-dotted raincoats, and they were fully focused on not dropping their popsicles.
The older of the two girls must have sensed me enter the elevator, because she slowly shifted her neck to look up at me and gawked for a few seconds. She then turned to her mom and unabashedly shouted: “Hey Mom! What’s that thing on his head?!”
The young mother made eye contact with me and quickly checked to see if I was planning to respond. I flashed my standard awkward smile, and she returned an awkward smile of her own before totally catching me by surprise.
“That’s a turban.”
“Why does he wear it?”
“It’s part of his religion. Do you remember the boy in your class who wore a turban?”
“Yeah, he doesn’t cut his hair. He has really long hair. ”
I was shocked. I wanted to give everyone in the elevator a high-five, but remembering I was in New York, I tried to play it cool. I put on my Denzel Washington face (the coolest person I could think of on the spot), and as I walked out of the elevator, I turned to the mother and whispered a soft “thank you.”
by Jessica Abrahams
from The Guardian
Fifteen years ago, a Muslim scholar, a Christian priest and a Jewish philanthropist came together in London to create Three Faiths Forum (3FF), a platform for community leaders to engage with each another and break down barriers. But today, some of the most valuable work the charity undertakes is in schools, ensuring that tensions between faith communities don’t trickle down to the next generation.
Often this will simply be making sure that children of different faiths have an opportunity to meet one another or addressing a lack of knowledge about other religions; occasionally more severe problems occur. “We’re contacted by RE teachers to help when there’s been anti-Jewish, -Muslim or -Christian sentiment,” says Debbie Danon, the charity’s education manager.
Deputy director Rachel Heilbron speaks of one particularly serious case they became involved with last year. A teacher discussing the features of a church with a group of 14-year-old students at a non-denominational school in London mentioned synagogues. Some of the students complained they didn’t want to learn about “Jew stuff”. They said that Jews were dirty and smelly and that they kept money under their hats. As the situation escalated, some of the children began banging on the tables, chanting: “Kill the Jews, kill the Jews.”
by Najeeba Syeed-Miller
I was recently offering a workshop to a group of Muslim educators from all types of ethnic, racial and community backgrounds. One of my points in the training on conflict resolution was the importance of story telling,the many ways that stories are formed, told and uttered in different cultural contexts.
Sometimes, the content of the story is less important than the way we tell the story.
We talked about how to listen to the form of the story being told, its inherent design logic, and what we learn about a person and her community from the way she chooses to tell her story especially in times of conflict. For it is in conflict times that we resort to what is most familiar and sacred to us all.
For years, I have had the honor of being a peacemaker, a mediator who listens to people’s stories. I jokingly told a colleague that I could tell what they were thinking even as they were telling their story just by the way they sat, how their hands moved, whether they looked away at certain points or by what they also did not say.
It is important to hear a story being told as a fully embodied experience. The words, the way they are arranged, the flow of the narrative, its resonance with body language give you a more complete vision and experience of the story and insights into the storyteller.
So I thought about the ways stories play into my work, into my life and into my recovery of the sacred capacity of humans to build peace with each other. Some thoughts are below.
by Ruadhan MacCormaic
from the Irish Times
Marseille: It’s the Friday before mid-term break at Tour Sainte, and there’s a giddy mood in the yard as the children file out past Stéphane Thiébaut, the school principal. “Bonnes vacances,” he calls out to the parents and teachers milling about in the spring sunshine.
Tour Sainte has some of the best views in Marseille, its hilltop perch giving a wide panorama of the city and the Mediterranean. Birds are singing from the trees in the yard, while the glare of the warm sun against the peach buildings accentuates the calm. ‘We have built ourselves a little oasis of peace,” Thiébaut remarks.
by Diane Winston and John Green
from the Washington Post
A new survey of news consumers and reporters reveals a significant gap between the two groups [the media and the public] on what’s important and how it’s covered. Two-thirds of the public says the news media sensationalizes religion, a view shared by a little less than one-third of reporters. Significantly, almost 70 percent of the public prefers coverage on religious experience and spirituality, while reporters’ focus is on religion and politics.
…One reason for shortcomings in current coverage is that many reporters lack expertise. Half of those surveyed say they don’t know a lot about religion. Only a fifth claimed to be “very knowledgeable,” and most in that small segment said their information was from their own religious practice, self-study and their family background. In the past, news organizations encouraged staff to attend seminars and workshops for continuing education. But in the recent climate of cutbacks, journalists are reluctant to spend time away from the newsroom even if enhancing their skills.
Improved Religious Understanding and Presence Necessary to Transform Conflict, US Institute of Peace Finds
from the US Institute of Peace
Qamar-ul Huda, Senior Program Officer in the Religion and Peacemaking Center and a scholar of Islam at the US Institute of Peace discusses in a newly-published report that discusses appropriate steps to community recovery and rebuilding after incendiary events. He states that “there needs to be symbolic acts of reaching out to communities who have been offended to restore trust, rebuild relationships, acknowledge lapses of proper judgment, and the need to use collaborative conflict resolution. If the aim is to work toward a culture of peacemaking, then a revised training in culture should consist of key religious values and customs, with an emphasis on understanding honor, guilt, empathy, ethics, and justice.”