A colleague, Sean Conley formerly based at the New School in New York City and the School for International Training in Brattleboro Vermont, has described for us the concentric circles of peace.  These are the circles within circles of connections and community that form the basis for individual, community and societal peace.  The vision you must hold is of a series of concentric circles, defining an ever-more-personal view of how peace can be fostered through aware and sensitive (i.e. humanistic) teaching.  Thus, the peaceful self is at the center and gradually we make our way out to a peaceful world.  As Conley has written on his website (www.explorepeace.org),

“The circles of peace are a lens, one of many, for viewing the areas in which we can investigate the dynamics of peace and conflict and act to influence those dynamics.  The interconnectedness of each circle in our image of circles of peace is captured by this poem by a Cambodian Buddhist, Venerable Maha Ghosananda,

A prayer:

The suffering of Cambodia has been deep.

From this suffering comes Great Compassion.

Great Compassion makes a Peaceful Heart.

A Peaceful Heart makes a Peaceful Person.

A Peaceful Person makes a Peaceful Family.

A Peaceful Family makes a Peaceful Community.

A Peaceful Community makes a Peaceful Nation.

And a Peaceful Nation makes a Peaceful World.

May all beings live in Happiness and Peace.

We live within circles surrounded by circles.  I’ve discussed briefly how the circles envelope us all as a unifying theme.  I have described two positions on the circle that feel healthy and affirming; that of being on the circle and that of being in the center.  I do not doubt that you can imagine the devastating image which is to be outside the circle, to be excluded, to find oneself not able or not being invited to participate.   Working as teachers to avoid this experience for our students is embracing a pedagogy of peace.  This pedagogy of peace requires that as teachers, we are concerned with the inner life of our students, our own inner lives, and the interpersonal lives we create and recreate daily with each other in our classrooms and through our teaching.