“Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work  of education.”

By Zena Kavas –  Biology Teacher, High School

Preparing our ākonga for the adult world by providing them with academic success, a pathway forward after school, a strong belief in themselves, and to be confident, connected, actively involved, life-long learners (NZ curriculum) are some of the many other goals of an education in New Zealand. However, the deep underlying value beneath these goals is to establish peace. In Peace and Education (p24) Maria Montessori says “Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education”. Here she is telling us that the ultimate aim of education is to establish peace.

In order to establish peace we must find peace within ourselves. It is often so easy to tell others how they should or could be more peaceful. But the real work begins with finding peace within ourselves and within our whānau. Maria is in good company with her thoughts about peace.

When the great Sufi poet Rumi says “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there” he too is saying that we must let go of our ideas about who is right and who is wrong before we can see others as they are in reality, and therefore feel at peace.  

Our favourite scientist Albert Einstein says “you cannot keep peace by force, it can only be achieved by understanding.” Maria, Rumi and Albert are all telling us that peace is the seed of an idea that must be sown and nurtured. Rather than searching for peace, struggling for peace or even fighting for peace, we need to let go of the barriers that we have built up that stop us from being peaceful. We need to let go of our ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, of being a little better than others, of judging, of enforcing our ideas on others, and by doing this we may find a little more peace. Personally, I find it very challenging to let go of ideas such as “Trump is such an idiot”, and when I hold this idea in my mind I do not have a sense of peace. However, if I can let go of that idea I feel more peace.  Like the dust-covered lamp, that cannot shine brightly due to the dust, once the dust is removed then the light will be able to shine. 

International Peace Day, 21st September (this Thursday) is an opportunity for us to contemplate what peace means to us, and how we can cultivate more peace in ourselves and in our lives. The whole school gathers in the morning, sharing breakfast and then some waiata and korero.  A peace flame is lit and at the end of the ceremony the wishes, aspirations and thoughts that ākonga have previously written are thrown into the flame to be symbolically released out into the world. We welcome our community to share this opportunity with us on Thursday morning.