Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control (Galatians 5: 22-23).
Are we teachers that are Christians? Are we Christians that are teachers? Or are we followers of Christ called to a profession to be a light unto the world? Your answers to these questions will determine how you integrate your faith in life. While many people try to figure out how this can be accomplished, there are those that establish the Fruits of the Spirit into their worldview to integrate life into their faith.
Character Focus: Peace
Peace has been defined as the absence of conflict (Burstermann, 1993). This is not the a great way to define peace. There is not a living organism that experiences life void of conflict. However, some living organisms have the ability to exist with conflict without succumbing to unnecessary emotional or physical outbursts that may lead to behavior that is not peaceful. In fact, there are always peaceful solutions to all forms of conflict.
Teachers can develop peaceful hearts by following the words of Isaiah and Paul. Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, not only did Isaiah prophesy of the coming Christ, he also provided specific instructions to attain peace (Isaiah 26). Isaiah in a song expresses that the key to “perfect peace” is faith. Similarly, Paul wrote a letter to the saints of Philippi while chained to a guard and under house arrest. He wrote:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (NIV, Philippians 4: 4-9).
Both Isaiah and Paul provide specific directions for Christians to attain Peace. The directions from Isaiah and Paul are useful if practiced prior to conflict. We should heed the directions of a proven prophet and an eye witness to Jesus’ character.
It is important for teachers to instill an understanding of peace within students. Pre-service teachers today identify peace with “…serenity, love, respect, friendship, tolerance, solidarity and equality” (Deveci, Yilmaz, & Karadag, 2008). Today our youth experience both real and virtual forms of situations that are not peaceful. Real conflicts exist in the forms of wars across the world, emotional conflict in the home, and physical conflict at school. In addition, the various forms of virtual gaming systems may confuse our young people’s natural understanding of peace. Because our young people are regularly exposed to non-peaceful situations it is more important than ever that we provide opportunities for students to experience peaceful situations.
Teachers can be effective in modeling peace education in K-12 classrooms. Snodgrass (2009) recently completed research in South Africa where peace education was practiced and it was found that it “…provided opportunities for learners to grow beyond their current cultural identities and discover alternative ways of handling conflict constructively” (p. 166). Each teacher should identify opportunities to teach peaceful behavior and provide alternative peaceful solutions to conflicts.
Nathan Herzog Ph.D.
Deveci, H., Yilmaz, F., & Karadag, R. (2008). Pre-Service Teachers’ Perceptions of Peace Education. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research (EJER), (30), 63-80. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Snodgrass, L. (2009). Peace Education in Multicultural Schools: An Action Research Approach. International Journal of Learning, 16(8), 157-168. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.