Tupua Tamasese (2007) stated that ‘ A search for peace is a search for harmony’. Tupua goes on to explain the four facets of harmony and when these facets align then peace prevails.
Why write about peace?
2023 is the UNESCO International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace, (2022).
Education is a key ingredient in building a culture of peace.
As we begin the school year in New Zealand, our themes for learning are planned.
Part of this is ensuring our school values are revisited.
I have written before of our school values, (2019). But I had not developed enough in my understanding of how the values are closely woven together and I return to the word harmony.
What is harmony?
Harmony is like a Tōtika (Balance) or an alignment. Harmony is usually not seen but generally felt like the space between the nodes. The space that cannot be seen. Harmony is how we treat others the way we want to be treated.
Our school values
Unesco emphasises the importance of teaching values and at our school we have Kindness, Respect and Perseverance. UNESCO also emphasises the contribution of learners in advancing a culture of peace. In particular the importance of prevention and resolution of conflicts and in activities that promote a culture of peace. At my school we have been part of the ‘Mitey’ way during 2022. Mitey is part of our professional learning to develop a school-wide mental health strategy.
All awareness-raising activities related to peace are very important. Educating our learners about our school values is fundamental to keep advancing towards a more balanced and peaceful school. Through the Mitey Mana Model we are learning to develop activities which show respect for what is happening in the world, respect for our environment, respect for each other and respect for oneself. The Mana Model of Student Wellbeing (2023) comes from world class research by leading New Zealand academics.
Creating a harmonious and peaceful school
Developing harmony for our school staff by ensuring:
- New staff have been greeted by the senior team and getting to know their teaching teams;
- New staff have access to all their teaching tools and accounts;
- Communication channels are open, accessible and transparent;
- An understanding of our school history as part of local curriculum;
- Planning for functions for staff;
- Identifying opportunities to build strong staff relationships;
Developing harmony for our families and whānau by:
- Pronouncing each of our children’s names correctly;
- Greeting our families in their home language;
- Understanding the cultural diversity in our school and begin by acknowledging the Chinese New Year and highlighting all the language weeks;
- Informing the whānau about the upcoming events each week and each quarter of the year;
- Communication channels are open, accessible through ease of translations and are transparent;
- Inviting our families and whānau to a shared picnic early in the school year;
- Planning for and hosting 3-way conferences;
For developing harmony in our learning environments by
- Identifying areas of maintenance and upkeep both inside and out;
- Ensuring all learning systems are set up;
- Setting up a welcoming classroom;
- Pre ordering school stationery so that it is ready for distribution;
- Proving advanced notice the year before of which class the children will be a member of;
Education is critical to creating a school that builds peace by developing a comprehensive program. The Mitey Mana Model teaches our learners how to interact with others, how to nurture their own emotional wellbeing and those of others, and how to avoid unnecessary aggression. A key Mitey finding was that children thrive when they can develop their innate mana.Thus preventing violent incidents from occurring. If our learners have a peaceful mind and are emotionally healthy with a respectful heart then they are better equipped to face the challenges that life brings.
Kirwan, J. (Ed.). (n.d.). Mitey affirms and develops mana. Mitey. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.mitey.org.nz/about-mitey/the-mana-model
Tui Atua, T.T.T.E. 2007. “In Search of Harmony: Peace in the Samoan Indigenous Religion”. In Tui Atua, T.T.T.E et al (eds), Pacific indigenous dialogue on faith, peace, reconciliation and good governance. Apia, Samoa: Alafua Campus Continuing and Community Education Programme, University of the South Pacific. Pp.1-12.
UNESCO (Ed.). (2022, December 6). International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace, 2023. International Years. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-years
Van Schaijik, S. (2019, October 19). Our school values. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://sonyavanschaijik.com/2019/10/19/our-school-values/