Seek Peace Within Yourself (in Elementary Schools)

By Julie Lillie*

World Citizen Peace offers ‘Five Peace Actions’, which provide a foundation for the mission and vision of a learning site, as well as a grounding philosophy of needs and pursuits for the whole community. 

  • SEEK peace within yourself and others
  • REACH OUT in service
  • PROTECT the environment
  • RESPECT diversity
  • BE a responsible citizen of the world

In the journey to becoming a more peace and justice centered site, educators, students and families work together to explore what these peace actions (can) look and feel like in their homes, classrooms, schools and community spaces.

Note: This is part 2 of 7 of a peace education in elementary schools series. 

Let’s explore the peace action: Seek Peace Within Yourself. Seeking peace within means experiencing the right now. It’s developing and deepening our self-awareness and inner calm. As humanitarian leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (2016) teaches, if we can still our mind then we shift from reactions to mindful responses, act with awareness and spread calm and happiness. How any learner (including you!) views their relationship with themselves is welcomed as part of the exploration that occurs within peacelearning!

Whole Child & Holistic Education

Exploring and understanding our internal world is the basis of our humanity. Yet in far too many school settings, holistic or whole child education is undervalued, ignored or treated as an ‘if we have time’ add on to academic standards. Primary and elementary educators generally have a greater appreciation for the importance of education for the whole self, but until our systems and structures evolve out of the industrial era, we will continue to have children and youth with high rates of mental health needs and a growing apathy towards schooling.

Can we pause and mindfully take action to evolve our school systems? 

Whole person, holistic education means just that, we meaningfully engage within the needs and gifts of that which makes us human: our physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, creative and social selves. To create conditions for children and adults to thrive, these fundamentals of social-emotional learning (SEL) are crucial to be prioritized as the basis of education: 

  • development of healthy identities 
  • a sense of belonging
  • feeling connected in relationships
  • the ability to listen to and manage emotions
  • demonstrating empathy and care for others
  • making responsible decisions
  • working towards personal and collective goals

(Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2021)

 As philosopher and educator Jiddue Krishnamurti (2017) emphasized, The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole.” Though it is important to know how to read, write and problem solve, of equal and perhaps even greater importance is deepening self awareness, emotional intelligence and accessing strategies to calm and ground oneself.

Regulation: The Foundation for Healthy Life & Learning

Humans of every age need skills and strategies to navigate stress, emotions and challenges. The opposite of being calm and regulated, dysregulation is the inability to manage the duration and intensity of emotions or difficulty in recovering from strongly felt emotions. When a human is dysregulated, it is hard for them to listen, comprehend or cope. Think about a child having a tantrum  – they are not able to reason and engage in new learning while in this dysregulated state. Considering this, it is important to engage in peaceful practices daily and ongoingly, even when we may already feel at ease. Adults often serve as co-regulators, so modeling being present, grounded and providing a soothing and safe environment through verbal/nonverbal communication is crucial or we can co-dysregulate!

Pause & Reflect: What practices support the calming or regulating of your nervous system? How can this or similar practices become routine with students?

Put It Into Practice: Seek Peace Within Yourself

There are many practices children and adults can routinely engage in to support the calming or regulating of the nervous system. Practicing seeking peace within allows us to more easily access that calm or regulated state when stress or dysregulation occurs. Practices include:

  • Play! (open-ended, creative, collaborative)
  • Meditation and body scans (daily!)
  • Mindful movements (qigong, yoga, dancing, walking, taichi, etc.)
  • Breathwork and noticing the breath (breath and our emotions are interlinked)
  • Music drumming, call/response (physical, rhythmic & repetitive)
  • Being in nature, natural environments
  • Observing the present moment
  • Centering gratitude
  • Reflective / intuitive journaling
  • Art and creative expression (e.g. mandalas, improv)
  • Exploring emotions and messages
  • Access a comprehensive lesson plan, digital slides and anchor chart for I Am Peace: Pause-Breathe-Notice-Act Strategy (Emotion Identification & Regulation) by becoming a FREE ‘Seed Community’ member. 

“When humans seek peace within themselves (inner peace), it opens up a way of being in the world that honors and facilitates the sustained creation of peace with others and the environment” (Lillie & Seeley-Dzierzak, 2024).

Prioritization of holistic education begins with the adults in our children’s lives and in protecting spaces for children to engage in peacelearning pursuits and practices. Seeking peace within truly is a life-long journey! As you continue on your journey and guide learners, be empowered that as we learn and grow, our ideas, beliefs and understandings of ourselves will likely evolve as well. I invite you to continue your exploration of the peace action: Seek Peace Within Yourself with this free guided video and reflection guide and/or connect with me to deepen peacelearning at your site.

Author Bio: Julie Lillie, M.S., is an empowering peace-centered educator and consultant with over fifteen years of experience in diverse preK-12 settings, including as a teacher, instructional leader, literacy specialist, equity coach and curriculum developer. She is founder of The Peace Pad and co-author of Empowering Peace and Justice Education: An Actionable Framework for Elementary Educators and Learners (8/2024).

References

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2021, July 1). Fundamentals of SEL. CASEL. https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/

Lillie, J. & Seeley-Dzierzak, C. (2024, August). Empowering Peace and Justice Education: An Actionable Framework for Elementary Educators and Learners. Routledge. Taylor & Francis.

Krishnamurti, J. (2017, October 31). Chapter 2 – “the right kind of education.” Jkrishnamurti.org. https://www.jkrishnamurti.org/content/chapter-2-right-kind-education

Shankar, R. (2016, November 15). 5 crucial personality traits that meditation can bring in you. Art Of Living (Global). https://www.artofliving.org/node/496334

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2 thoughts on “Seek Peace Within Yourself (in Elementary Schools)”

  1. Dr. Surya Nath Prasad

    It is foolish to talk world unity before world peace, and it is more foolish to talk world peace before peace at individual level. And if each and every individual is set right, there is possibility, the world would be automatically set right. For more details, one may refer to:

    Focus Article
    Peace and Non-Violence
    By Surya Nath Prasad, Ph. D.
    On the eve of A Decade of Culture of Peace & Nonviolence (2001-2010)
    Sang Saeng, A UNESCO-APCEIU Magazine,
    No. 27 Spring, 2010, pages 8-11
    http://www.unescoapceiu.org/board/bbs/board.php?bo_table=m411&wr_id=57

    A Message
    To the All-India Students Energy Parliament held on 25 February, 2016 at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in India.
    “If sons and daughters misbehave with their parents, students are indiscipline towards teachers, youth laugh at religious preachers and agitate against rulers and political leaders, we must have doubt on faulty characters of these elders rather than our youngsters.”

    Youth and peace are synonymous. Youth is for peace. Peace is fully supported, protected, safe and secure in the hands of youth. They need only healthily examples of elders, particularly parents, teachers, religious preachers, rulers and political leaders, judges and bureaucrats, and total education in place of partial education for good governance and to be peaceful.” For more details, one may refer to:

    Total Education for Good Governance and Peace: The Role of Youth
    EDUCATION, 15 Feb 2016
    Surya Nath Prasad, Ph. D. – TRANSCEND Media Service
    https://www.transcend.org/tms/2016/02/total-education-for-good-governance-and-peace-the-role-of-youth/

    UCN News Channel
    A Dialogue
    between Dr. Surya Nath Prasad and the Anchor of UCN News Channel on
    Universal Peace Education
    For Peace and Nonviolence
    By Surya Nath Prasad, Ph.D.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS10fxIuvik

  2. I have great respect for Julie Lillie and co-author Carey Seeley as leaders in peace education and highly recommend their forthcoming book “Empowering Peace and Justice Education: An Actionable Framework for Elementary Educators and Learners” (8/2024) for all educators seeking to create peace cultures within their classrooms and schools.
    Caren Stelson
    World Citizen Peace – Board Chair

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