My Personal Story
I believe all children deserve to live in a joyful, healthy, prosperous and peaceful world because the opposite is strife, war and suffering, something that must be avoided at all costs. I witnessed the 1980's civil war in El Salvador and its aftermath. I saw the horrors of war and have seen the endless cycle of awful circumstances, radicalism and violence it has engendered. I see how the same can be said for Israel/Palestine, Irak, Afghanistan, Rwanda, and the other places where violence and war has broken out. This cycle of suffering is extremely hard, if not impossible, to stop once it has begun and it leads to the degeneration of humanity to an unspeakable level and endless problems and even global impacts. We must do all we can to prevent a really bad situation from unfolding at the root.
Joy, health, prosperity and peaceful coexistence with each other and the natural world are ideals that may never be achieved 100%, but they are worth pursuing in order to neutralize the root causes of strife and instead, bring joy, abundance and love to each other. I believe most people prefer joy over misery, regardless of background. There are many proven and tried ways that have been used by past and present societies and micro communities to have more joy, health, prosperity and peaceful coexistence with each other and the natural world. And in all of the models I have studied, education plays a key role.
Therefore, education may not be able to save the world from all of its problems, but educators can help children develop the soft and hard skills to better navigate it joyfully and be co-creators of a more just, sustainable and prosperous world. Through intentional experiences early in life and experiences that connect them with their inner selves, nature, their community and each other, we can help them avoid falling into the darker sides of rage, revenge, pain, fear, victimhood, exploitation, greed, selfishness, inequality, bigotry, fanaticism, racism and all the other -isms that contribute to social and ecological strife, suffering and ultimately, in too many cases, horrible war.
All children deserve to live in a joyful, healthy, prosperous and peaceful world. Dewey believed that the business of education is to "train children in co-operative and mutually helpful living" - in other words, to help them to live peacefully in community. I agree with Dewey because the ability and motivation to connect, co-exist and equitably cooperate with others (cross-culturally), are some of the most important inner skills we can help children develop and master for lifelong success in today's world. They, along with other 21st Century skills like creativity and humor, are the foundation for further learning, healthy interpersonal growth and the ability to thrive and be a happy member of a larger society throughout their lives.