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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 6:51 am | Fair 42º

 
 
 

Susan Ann Darley: From War to Peace Through Imaginations of Israeli Children

Classrooms and homes serve as fertile ground to nurture the beginnings of a better world

Since the 1970s there has been a parallel effort made to find terms upon which peace can be agreed to in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A supposed breakthrough occurred with a U.S. initiative presented in a speech to Congress in March 1991 by former President George H.W. Bush. Yet today, 20 years later, there is still no agreement.

Ten years ago, as told to Creativity at Work founder Linda Naiman, Etti and Adi, two fourth-grade teachers at the Alon elementary school in Mate Yehuda, Israel, conducted a peace activity in their classroom consisting of about 50 children. The creative exercise was given to celebrate Memorial Day in Israel on April 25, 2001.

Each child was asked to think about how to convert the tools of war into instruments and devices that could be used during times of peace. It was a simple activity with the children using only drawing paper and crayons.

They divided the children into groups and asked them to talk with one another and come up with creative ideas of transformation.

“Their creativity knew no limits,” Naiman reported. “A war aircraft became a ‘Dove of Peace’ flying from one country to another ushering a new era. Tanks, armored vehicles and planes became a huge amusement park, where a merry-go-round was made of former fighter bombers and the armored vehicles cheerfully painted, were part of the amusement cars driven by visitors for fun.”

Rifles containing colorful and tasty candies were imagined by some. Others liked the ideas of welding metal to create and design jewelry. With no hesitation, these eager fourth-graders quickly and creatively envisioned peace. Through the minds of these children it was a natural and fun place to go.

It makes me wonder; at what age do we lose our innocence that sees the world as a playful adventure? When do we become ruled by fear instead of childlike trust? More importantly, how do we regain it? Perhaps we can heal through the children.

“If we are going to bring about peace in the world, we have to begin with the children,” Mahatma Gandhi said. A small classroom in Israel did just that.

And hopefully more and more teachers everywhere are having conversations with their students about how to creatively imagine peace. Peace discussed in classrooms in Palestine and throughout the Middle East. Classrooms in the United States and across the world where each child reminds us of the beauty of peace and the destruction of war.

Teachers have the ability to ignite and foster creativity in children. They can show them how it’s an effective tool to see something in a new way, to solve problems, to rebuild, to transform old ideas into new options. To initiate new beginnings. To heal.

The fourth-graders who participated in the creative peace activity in Israel in 2001 are at least 18 years of age now. They are lucky to have had two teachers who recognized that the classroom is a fertile ground to nurture young, informative minds.

As adults and teachers we all have the ability and the responsibility to pave new highways of understanding in our homes and our classrooms through open communication.

Through creative dialogue and ideas we can begin together to transform, as Naiman says, “the bitter taste of war into the sweet taste of candy and chocolate bars.” That would definitely make it a better world.

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach and writer who works with artists, creatives and entrepreneurs to discover, use and market their talents. She offers a free 30-minute coaching session. Follow her on Twitter: @Coach7700. For more information, click here, e-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 805.845.3036.

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