December 1, 2016
Hands United for Peace:
Tapping the creativity of grade 4-5 students
in community-based education
HUFP was an unusual and creative peace education project for grade 4-5 students. The initiative was planned and delivered in Kingston during the 2015-6 school year, by a partnership consisting of a faith community (Chalmers United Church), a public school (Sydenham Public School of the Limestone District School Board) and a volunteer-based peace group (PeaceQuest-Kingston).
Below are links to three documents from the project:
- Description of the project.
- Evaluation of the project.
- Complete ‘Data-set’ of students’ comments about the project and what they learned.
- Project Description: Introduces the three partner groups, the gr. 4-5 class and the six project leaders. Provides useful information about HUFP — planning, teaching/learning methods, partnership operations, challenges, etc. Includes several photos of the project in action.
Gary Rasberry (Kingston singer-songwriter, performer and educator. Extensive experience here and elsewhere working with primary/junior/intermediate students, blending their creativity with reflection in education about social issues.)
The report is incredibly well-written and very thorough. It relates the story of the project in all its phases beautifully…. (It was) a complex project with many moving parts, and so its success is even more noteworthy. Partnerships (make) successful navigation and negotiation through the many stages critical…Your report does a very nice job of explaining and articulating the process. I think the value of the report is that it describes the project in detail, making it accessible to others wishing to take on collaborative projects. PS: loved the banner …
Jan Allen (Artist and poet with a history of community activism. She is currently Director at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University.)
This is a rich document and clearly laid-out narrative report, which offers a strong sense of the goodwill of contributing partners and the project’s impact, and ends with reflective remarks and recommendations. The handy list of links to (media and on-line) coverage provided at the end of the report (indicates the project’s community) footprint. The photos are terrific, and the acknowledgements of the various contributors are important. The report is lengthy, but its observations bring great texture to the account, and contribute to its inspirational force.
- Project Evaluation: Identifies the project’s six major goals. Presents information about how each goal was addressed and how well each was achieved. Analyses teaching/learning implications of each goal’s relative attainment. Contains six appendices: documents related to HUFP’s planning and operations.
Jim Powers (Graduate of U.S. Naval Academy, with military experience in Eastern Europe and [the then] Soviet Union. Long, effective and highly respected career as high school history teacher in Cincinnati. In retirement, still teaching and doing on-line publishing related to his life-long interest in military history.)
The evaluation has encouraged me to think about my own beliefs, core values, educational philosophy, “war and peace.” And how they all tie together. How our private capacities connect with public purposes. One of my favorite student quotes in the document: “I’m not really sure (how to build peace), it’s really complex.” Pretty good and honest thinking for a middle-schooler! The discussion on raising awareness as an objective reminded me of Thomas Hobbes’ discussion of what is war/peace. Roughly: War is not only the exchange of blows “but the known disposition thereunto. All other times – peace.” …if I remember his point in Leviathan.
Michael Riordon (versatile writer – journalism, plays for radio & stage, essays, books using oral history approach – and educator and gardener, who lives in Picton.)
First, about the project as you outline it (in the Evaluation): It’s a vivid reminder of how enormously challenging it is in a war-worshiping culture to think creatively about peace — let alone speak about it — as anything more than an empty platitude. It’s also amazing and impressive to observe how much dedicated work goes into a $5000 project, while the corporate arms dealers have lunch with the minister and come away from it with contracts worth billions of $, all of it unaccountable. Ye gods. I admire how consistently you question every step of the process (in this project), and every assumption on which it’s based, even the evaluation itself. I liked your recurring ‘We can also asks.’ And your occasional personal asides, a nice leavening agent.
- Complete Student Data-set: Students’ (anonymous) written and spoken comments about their reactions to HUFP and all its ingredients, what they learned, and what they would tell others thinking about doing an education project like this one.
Question: What’s the main lesson that you learned?
Student: I’m not really sure — it’s really complex.
Question: What would you say to another school that was thinking about doing this project?
Student: It will be useful and very educational.
Question: What changes would you suggest?
Student: Change everything, because you don’t want to do everything over and over again.