To help solve the issue of guns and violence we need to begin with how we educate our children. Let us think about the value of empowerment and how we can better listen to each other. Empowerment equals connection — connection to community, feeling valued by community and feeling indispensable to community.
As educators, we offer the suggestion of implementing educational (not judicial) restorative justice in our schools. Edutopia, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, says that “Restorative justice empowers students to resolve conflicts on their own and in small groups, and it’s a growing practice at schools around the country. Essentially, the idea is to bring students together in peer-mediated small groups to talk, ask questions and air their grievances.”
Another approach is to use proactive sharing and listening circles to start each day. This approach does not necessarily focus on problems. Sharing and listening lead to connection, and help to foster an atmosphere of respect and mutual cooperation among students and adults.
Helping children develop love and compassion is another educational imperative. When we can act toward others with love and compassion, then we can dissipate fear and learn to embrace those who may on the surface seem different than ourselves.
The Dalai Lama reminds us that “we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others.”
Christopher and Deb Michaels