Educational Strategies for Lasting Peace
By Joseph Berolo and Dr. Gloria Ines Currea
Reprinted with permission from Strategies for Peace (Bruce L. Cook and Maria Cristina Azcona, eds.), Elgin, IL: Cook Communication, 2016)
Concerned with the increasing abandonment of the Fine Arts as an instrument of Peace, the teachers of Humanities in a rural school in the outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia, created a program inspired by the authors of this essay. It was called “Seeds of Youth”. The project’s purpose was to reach the inner feelings of the young, from first graders to high school students, in pursuit of their artistic talents, which are present in most children particularly for poetry and other forms of expression.
It was nothing new, as this type of educational project has existed since antiquity. As written, On the Composition of Words, by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a first-century BCE Greek historian, “students were first taught the shape, sound, and name of the letters of the alphabet, then how to put those letters together into syllables, syllables into words, words into sentences, sentences into connected passages, and so on till they were accomplished readers.”
Moving from accomplished readers to good writers, and possibly good poets, is the purpose of Seeds of Youth, but, most important, to allow the pupils to express their feelings about anything occurring in their lives, within the walls of the school and beyond, in the street, and in the intimacy of their homes. Developed by the authors of this writing, the academic curriculum was seen from three very punctual concerns: first, the kind of men and society is being formed; second, the fundamental pillars and dimensions of the means of communications -Ethic and Esthetic being the essence in their formation. The third component, Administrative Management, to adapt Seeds of Youth to the institutional culture. The intention was to continue exploring these defying and invigorating subjects in depth.
Fundamental in the development of the moral character of men and women of tomorrow, it is necessary to project the ideal of the human being and society that is hoped for, and to rethink the basics and the methodologies to apply, including the learning environment, as impellers, so that Seeds of youth can grow healthy and well nurtured.
In our essay “Unity without Frontiers” (2012), and our act of faith, written in celebration of the 1st Anniversary of United Nations of the Letters, we manifested that the so called Modern Man of today, is the result sui generis of change in social political, religious and economic and moral behavior. Thus, the road for us poets, Quixote’s of sorts, is highly defiant when trying to sort the stream and navigate safely toward universal harmony through the planting of the Fine Arts in all manifestations, in the heart and minds of our youth.
Edgar Morín1 proposes “a reform of the tough to allow leaving behind the traditional mental schemes and familiarize in the dialogical - of the simple – to the complex”. The individual and total education preview should stress the importance it has for the students since their early age, to collect knowledge in different disciplines to be capable to “learn again to see, to conceive, to think and to act.”
Educational organizations of today are obligated to ask themselves, from the field of anthropology and philosophy, the profile of the student they wish to educate. They must ask for the “being” of his or her dimension, and the direction to take in the fields of Communication and Expression, mathematical logic, as well as in Technological Scientific and Social.
It is highlighted that communication and expression facilitate the identification of the poetic sentiments in the individual. These should serve as links which converge in the young generations with diverse languages and codes of scientific and ecological nature. It is then necessary to create the conditions under which youth recognize the significant possibilities language offers in seeking their own Peace and offer its views of the world. This approach, as an object of study, will continue the discovery of enduring Peace through the teaching of Poetry and the Fine Arts.
The possibilities include the application of such ideals and comprehending values, principles, behavior, myths and customs where different fields of education display their knowledge, building and rebuilding the social fabric of the youth. It identifies their interest and aspirations, learns their profile and exult the memory of their history along with the traditions and the values of their ancestors. In open spaces, peaceful and in harmony with nature, the Seeds of Youth recreate among themselves the virtues of cohabitating in peace and find in art the elixir that exists in poetry, painting, music, theater, comedy and sounds of joy, allowing them to caress happiness and peace.
This vision in the conception of integrity of the human being, from the foundation to the complexity of education, signifies the development of ethical and esthetic dimensions in the student. Convinced of the need to cultivate knowledge, interrelating with the arts, and integrated to the formation of character and personality, it is a guarantee for lasting peace. May the youth flood the world with their talents until their voices echo peace, liberty and fraternity in the immensity of the universe!
Edgar Morin, de nacimiento Edgar Nahum, French.
Joseph Berolo is a poet and writer, and Founder of United Nations of the Arts, Uniletras. Gloria Ines Currea, Ph.D., is an educator and Academic Director of Seeds of Youth Projects.