“Raising Peacemakers is an inspiring look at the effects an innovative elementary school program had on the lives of the parents, teachers, and students involved. But even more than that, it shows what children are capable of when they’re empowered to solve their own conflicts and take control over their lives.”
Raising Peacemakers tells a twenty-two year story of kids growing up with peacemaking as their foundation. At Downtown Alternative School (DAS), a small public elementary school in Toronto, child-to-child conflicts were understood as opportunities. Children and adults worked hard to create a warm inclusive community where differing viewpoints and disagreements could be handled fairly and safely.
While the book includes documentation and transcripts, it's a narrative rather than an academic text. It's the author's story and many stories. It's a trail of re-thinking, negotiating and re-negotiating, solving and re-solving (occasionally resolving) teaching and learning dilemmas. It's a tale of one school's brave and optimistic effort to create and sustain healthy, safe, equitable, and academically relevant conditions for and with people whose lives were and are at stake in public education. It's about children and adults growing together as they discover more about what it means (and what it takes) to become responsible citizens who care about each other, about their community, and about the world.
Between their many inevitable conflicts, encouraged by adults, DAS children established their own rituals. They would double-cross their arms and clasp fingers in a group handshake to mark the conclusion of "a peacemaking." They would wipe away tears, giggle, move on to other things, or resume their play. They were learning to express themselves, listen, and include. The adults learned to hold back, hover, and accept what for the children constituted resolution, even when they (the adults) did not always fully get it. The DAS community was dedicated to the serious work, and to the joy, of respectful relationships and power sharing. This book invites you to step back more than twenty years to learn about how this began and what keeps it alive to this day.
Education / Teacher & Student Mentoring / Parenting & Family Reference / Education Theory
6 x 9 | 132 pages
$14.95 Paperback | $25.95 Hardcover | $9.99 eBook
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound (local bookstore) | Indigo Books | Books-A-Million
Endorsements and Reviews
“Raising Peacemakers shows that an authentic approach to managing child-to-child conflicts, learned in kindergarten, stayed with young children as they grew into adolescence and adulthood. It demonstrates by contrary example the profound error of standardized programs-in-a-box for conflict resolution and, by implication, much else in education.” – Carole Edelsky
“Esther Fine’s stories let readers learn how doing peace made and sustained lasting, positive changes in students’ lives.” – Patrick Willard Shannon
“Now is the perfect time to read Esther Fine's excellent Raising Peacemakers. Fine's book takes the reader on a journey of successfully teaching children peacemaking skills. Fine spent over a decade teaching these skills to early elementary school children and following them through their education into adulthood. At a time when education and peace are both suffering, this highly readable and important book can help usher us, and our children, into a better future.” - Amazon
“Raising Peacemakers is so much more than a well-designed blueprint for creating an alternative dispute resolution system in public schools. It is a deeply felt, albeit subtle, argument for the need throughout society for similar methods to resolve the disputes that separate and divide.” - Amazon
“Raising Peacemakers is an inspiring look at the effects an innovative elementary school program had on the lives of the parents, teachers, and students involved. But even more than that, it shows what children are capable of when they’re empowered to solve their own conflicts and take control over their lives.” - Amazon
“A stellar book for parents, teachers and all who care about the next generation. Clearly, we’d be living in a different kind of world if those holding the reins of power had been nurtured by the likes of Esther Sokolov Fine. Brava for sharing your experiences and ideas in this fine book.” - Amazon