Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Peace Table

The Peace Table is a tool that is used in forward thinking educational settings, such as Montessori schools very effectively. My daughter attended Montessori school for the first few years of her early education and this is how I had my first brush with the Peace Table. What an amazingly simple concept. There was also something called, The Peace Corner, where children could give themselves a time out. Again, what a concept! In the peace corner there were all kinds of things to help them to get calm and relaxed, such as soft floor pillows, soft music, an aquarium, a bowl of pretty stones, magazines and books and journals.

Children need to learn conflict resolution if they are going to make it as adults. They need to be removed from the situation, find neutral territory, and try to talk it out. The Peace Table is the perfect place to do this.

In the classroom the Peace Table is a set of small child-sized table and two chairs that is set in a quiet part of the classroom. In the middle of the table should be a Peace Flower.

When one child is upset with another, he should invite the other child to the Peace Table. The child who does the inviting begins the conversation, holding the Peace Flower. He tells the other child how she hurt his feelings and why she was invited to the Peace Table. Then he must pass it to her so that she can respond. The children keep passing the flower back and forth, speaking respectfully to each other, until their conflict is resolved. Only the child holding the Peace Flower may speak. They must keep going back and forth until the conflict is resolved. When the situation is resolved, they can hold the flower together and say, “We declare peace.”

Some children may require mediation by another student or a teacher. Especially in the beginning, adults should demonstrate proper use of the Peace Table. They can also model appropriate words and problem solving skills. Adults may need to interpret each child’s feelings for the other one as they are learning to interpret the feelings of others.

This is a technique that should not be restricted only to children. As adults we could take a huge lesson from this and try to incorporate more understanding and less violence, even if it is "just" verbal violence or passive aggression, into our lives. I'm not saying it's not Ok to be angry. That can be an honest emotion. It's how we express ourselves that will turn that anger or disappointment into the light or allow it to stay in the dark. We don't have to become dispassionate beings, but what this will lead us to is channeling our passions into our creativity and even greater cohesion of community and relationships. After all, aren't those the things to truly be passionate about, instead of our anger?