In the minute-by-minute clash of news from around the world, peace seems an elusive goal.
Peace, though, is not dependent on rest of the world’s cooperation. Peace begins with the individual and the individual’s decision to lead a peaceful life.
Peace must be chosen, and we need to teach others to choose peace, joy and happiness. We need to show others how to recognize the opportunities for decision-making that leads to a peaceful life.
The choice to lead a peaceful life requires a honing of interpersonal skills for dealing with conflict and friction that will arise with family and friends. We may choose peace, but we need to be aware of a maxim: where there are people, there are problems.
A communication tool for problem solving that is being used by families and classrooms throughout the world is the peace table.
A peace table may be an actual child-sized table, a couple of chairs, a corner of a room or a defined space where children can go to resolve a dispute with each other. The space might hold a decoration of a peace symbol, such as an olive branch, dove, flowers or similar meaningful object. A small bell’s ring signals to family and classmates that a conflict has been resolved.
Children in a quarrel can choose to go to the peace table, or a parent, teacher, sibling or classmate might suggest to the children to resolve their issues at the peace table. After a few successes working through their problems, children probably won’t need to be prompted to use the peace table.
The peace table procedure follows.
The child who feels wronged places one hand on the table, the other hand on her heart to indicate that the words being spoken are from the heart. The child looks at the other child, speaks that child’s name, explains how she feels about what has occurred and what solution she would like to see happen.
The other child has a turn, placing one hand on the table and the other hand on his heart. The dialogue continues, without outside interference, until an agreement is reached. If the children cannot resolve their disagreement, they may invite a mediator–parent, teacher, older sibling or especially trained classmate.
If the situation involves the entire family or classroom, the participants may ask for a meeting of the whole, where everyone listens to both sides of the disagreement and then is asked to speak, in turn, from the heart.
When agreement is reached, the bell is rung to signal to the family or class that an accord has been reached.
With the peace table, children learn that their point of view is important, that they will be listened to and that they will be treated with respect and fairness. In their negotiations at the peace table, children learn that arguments need to be settled with truth and good faith in order to ensure a harmonious home and a cooperative climate in their classroom.
Peace is an individual choice. In the words of the hymn: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
Create a peace table in your work with children. To have peace, teach peace.
Thank you for this article! Our theme this year is: “Trent Montessori Where Peace Begins With Me”. We are taking our children to the World Peace Bell, which is located in Newport KY, on Monday.
What wonderful news! Thanks for sharing.
Short on space? We have used a “talking stick” to facilitate talks. First we take a walk and find just the right stick -not too big and not too small. Then we each take turns painting it. When it is dried we tie rainbow ribbons on it. When you are holding the Stick you talk. You listen if you are not holding the stick.
Thank you for sharing the talking stick idea. I’ve seen that work very well.
Thank you for the lovely reminder of peace. Can you please specify the approximate age the peace table approach to conflict resolution works for? I know the approach to be very successful in the 6 to 9 classroom but are you suggesting any other age group?
I’ve seen the peace table used in classrooms for 3 to 6 year olds, and some in the 9 to 12 year group.
What I’ve seen is that the older groups like the “talking stick” idea.
What I’d hope for the upper elementary group and adolescent groups is that we’ve been able to help them learn various communication tools so that they “carry” their peace table wherever they go!