Storytelling has for centuries been the tool
used for sharing culture and tradition. A culture of peace perhaps can be
created by sharing stories of hope and peace especially if they help create
a peace-building consciousness.
Presented in this book are some possibilities considered to be healing
molimo. But more simply these ideas are trialled peace-building
activities, based upon stories, that are for everyone, not just peace
educators or teachers, but for anyone who is focussed upon the establishment
of a meaningful and lasting peace at all levels in our communities. We are
all teachers, parents, friends, grandparents and can choose to not be
limited by systems’ thinking and our defined roles. We are teachers to each
other, especially teachers to all the children we encounter in our daily
stories our children often hear on the television, in newspapers and from
their families and friends are stories of conflict and violence, stories of
hopelessness, not stories a peace-builder would tell. As history
unfortunately repeats itself again we continue to tell stories with unhappy
endings, stories of war, stories that reflect our seemingly hopeless
attempts to create peace, believing happy endings for everyone and
sustainable peace are impossible outcomes.
Summy, inspiring peace educator, who has recently retired from the position
of Director of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace at the University of
Hawaii, primarily has focussed his research upon developing an understanding
of the true nature of nonviolent action. Dr Summy draws upon and
acknowledges the power of storytelling and plot making in peace-building.
From his article Pedagogy of Peacemaking: A Nonviolence Narrative
"Although the past of cultures has abounded with storytelling and the
evoking of imagination, the focus of modern life on numbers associated
with market-oriented goals impoverishes the human spirit and contributes
greatly to the mounting malaise of people's alienation. Peacemaking
entails, inter alia, an attempt to remove the malaise: it requires
history as story with a new plot. Today's dominant history records the
past twentieth century with plots of violence and economic fluctuations.
Peacemaking needs to balance the history of nonviolence.
history is story, it has a plot. This plot is not something discovered,
but beyond the story's events, it contains the historian's imagined words
and invented explanations."
Summy's words invite everyone to become peace-builders who imagine and
create different plots to the stories being told and shared every day,
nonviolent plots with peaceful endings.
Beyond the Script: Drama in the Classroom Take Two written by Robyn
Ewing and Jennifer Simons (1997) it is stated that:
“Storying is part of being human. We live our lives, celebrate them and
make sense of who we are through story. Children are initiated into their
culture through story."
authors quoted: From Ben Orki, Birds of Heaven
fact of storytelling hints at fundamental human unease hints at human
imperfection. Where there is perfection, there is no story.”
in Ewing&Simmons, 2997)
Indigenous peoples used storytelling to impart rules for living and stories
of creation to their children. In Australian Aboriginal Dreaming, the vital
elements to sustaining the environment and peace with the spirit world
involved a conscious nurturing and devotion to the links between the
Dreamtime and the physical world that brought about balance and harmony in
these people's lives. Bringing peace to their physical world ultimately
depended upon honouring the ancient spirits who lived among them as the
trees and landforms, and lizards, birds and animal life. Their ancestral
spirits created rules for living that guided Aboriginal people's existence
through countless centuries, believing all life was sacred, all life was
interconnected. Many other indigenous peoples throughout the world shared
similar stories containing messages that called for humanity to reconnect to
the spirit of Mother Earth and rekindle the flames of appreciation for the
sacredness and interconnectedness of all life. This involved always choosing
nonviolent options and treating each other and the precious environment with
total respect knowing that survival depended upon it. Other indigenous
peoples also honoured the power of dreaming and its relationship with dance,
song and stories. In Dreamways of the Iroquois author Robert Moss
(2005) also identifies the power of our creative spirits as envisaged by the
Iroquois nation of North America.
Island Woman tells us, bringing something from the dreamworld into the
surface world is not only a creative process; it is also a process of
creation, a way of dancing a world into being, as Sky Woman danced on
shamans know the power of song and story to teach and to heal. They
understand that through the play of words, the magic of the real world
comes dancing into the surface world. The right words open pathways
between the worlds. The poetry of consciousness delights the spirits.”
The inspirational great
peacemakers from history, Mahatma Gandhi,
Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, the ones who imagined different
plots in their own storytelling about the possible futures we could build
together, continue to reconstruct our beliefs in relation to peace being
Martin K Luther King Jr dreamed very powerful dreams. His legacy is
testimony to the fact his dreaming led to significant changes in human
rights in America. Nelson Mandela's new South Africa
has been built upon his powerful dreaming also, a dreaming devoted to
reconciliation and hope and most importantly to the transformational energy
stories that can be shared together by adults and children. They can be
stories that are already published or be any stories created by either
adults or children that contain the following identified peace-building
imaginative and creative
challenges existing stereotyping
faith and hope
with the environment
finding personal peace
elements that support the idea that peace is possible
the elements is explored in detail in the following chapters. Each element,
though, is connected to the others and finds a meaningful peace-building
context due to that intrinsic connection. Generally picture books have been
chosen for the activities because of their universal appeal, simplicity and
accompanying intricate and colourful illustrations. Any story, whether for
adults or children, or written down or orally shared can contain
peace-building elements. The stories when shared create the transformative
magic that can begin the building of a peace consciousness.
story that typifies a peace-building story and contains all the
peace-building elements is:
Dragon Test” by June Crebbin and Polly Dunbar
Books London 2003)
Dragons are supposed to be dangerous, that is if you are familiar with the
story of 'St George and the Dragon'. Within this simply presented
publication lies a story that will enchant and challenge existing beliefs
about dragons, even real ones and how to capture them. This surprisingly
wonderful story for all ages to enjoy and share together contains all the
A little girl became the hero in the unfolding adventure. A little princess
was sent away from her family as she must learn skills that would assist her
to pass the 'dragon test'. But, in order to pass the test, a captured dragon
must be brought back to the castle alive, then afterwards it should be
returned unharmed to the wild.
The little princess remained in communication with her parents informing
them of all she had learnt and discovered while she is away from them. She
also shared her fear of taking her horse, which was even terrified of
rabbits, into the hills to find a dragon.
A sudden twist in the story revealed that the little princess had to use all
her special skills as she became the one who was captured. Ah but she learnt
the power of storytelling and magically turned her plight around by
capturing the dragon's heart.
Challenging many beliefs this
amazing little story truly delivered a very special message about the
magical transformative power of storytelling.
The happy ending in
this story did involve everyone winning even the dragon.
There was no sense or need for violence, killing or death that we so often
read in stories involving dragons being captured by heroic knights’ intent
upon saving princesses. Traditional stereotyping was challenged at many
levels. The princess became friends with her dragon and she named him Arthur
and began creating new stories for him that presented dragons as heroes and
"All that silly nonsense about eating me is forgotten!"
questions to explore with children
questions to explore with children
amazing story truly captures the essence of peace-building.
to use the peace-building stories
stories and associated activities presented in this book have not been
designed to provide a definitive or prescriptive list for peace-building
activities or stories nor do they need to be done in any particular order.
Hopefully by planting simple seeds, some new thinking will be germinated and
inspire the telling and sharing of peace-building stories within and beyond
families and communities. Everyone possesses different skills, heritages and
interests that can be utilised in storytelling.
are no specific or defined objectives for any of the activities but
suggestions for anticipated peace-building outcomes are highlighted after
each activity is described. The activities have been deliberately created to
be open-ended and simply offer a place to consider beginning peace-building
with children. Each activity will need to be adapted to suit the needs of
the children being exposed to the stories and perhaps other curriculum
requirements relative to the children’s learning and language levels will
need need to also be considered. It is recommended that the children’s
interests and ideas be paramount in determining any directions the
activities take. Peace-building should be an enjoyable process.
also recommended that any integration of storytelling and story writing
possibilities into school based curriculum should occur when the proposed
story sharing will meaningfully complement any other defined learning
outcomes that are not specifically peace-building but may be specific to
literacy or personal development (examples of other curriculum areas). The
integration should never be forced and stories chosen should comfortably fit
into an existing programme. A peace-building story will find its rightful
place if it is meant to.
Originally the peace-building activities were developed to be incorporated
into Religion and Values Education Programmes for year 4 and year 6
students, but the Information and Communication Technologies used to support
the storytelling and sharing allowed for many other integration
possibilities and curriculum inclusions to result. Consequently initially
established objectives and processes were constantly being adapted with many
pleasant surprises surfacing. Possibilities were proven to be endless. The
stories can certainly be shared with children as young as four years.
Teenagers also found the stories interesting and they considered creating
their own stories to share with younger children.
activities have been designed for people working with children, not
exclusively for teachers in classrooms. Each chapter explores an essential
peace-building element and provides examples of possible stories and
trialled follow up activities for children. Examples of children’s stories
that were written as a consequence to the activities being undertaken have
also been presented and each has its own powerful peace-building message to
deliver and is worthwhile sharing as well. The possibilities arising from
any of the stories being shared are definitely limitless.
stories does not rely upon anyone being an exceptional oral storyteller. All
we need to do is choose peace-building stories to share with our children.
Emerging from the sharing possibilities of these transformative tales can be
more peace-building stories. There are no voices more powerful than those of
children to stir the creation a peace-building consciousness. Children need
to hear other children’s stories and be inspired by each other’s
rememberings. The book could also act as a guide for anyone searching for
other peace-building stories to use with children.
who are unable to manage the literacy levels needed to create their own
peace-building stories or even to independently read them, can certainly
enjoy and benefit from the experience of being told a peace-building story.
They could be given help from a peer partner or adult to create their own.
Beginning readers can be inspired by peace-building stories that are written
Children's imaginations will provide the key for creating sustainable world
peace. Igniting their imaginations is truly all that needs to be done as
their innate peace-building natures will unleash the powerfully
transformative storytelling possibilities that will result.
important element, though, is fun! What could be more peace-building?
Peace-building stories need to be shared in as many different ways as
possible. Many of the stories produced by the children presented in this
book were also individually published by them. Stories were typed, formatted
and illustrated then presented on brightly coloured cardboard that was
laminated. Stories were displayed about the room, shared with peer partners
and other classes, taken home to share with family and friends and made
available to the school library and published in the school magazine.
Stories were even shared between families and friends. Webpages were
constructed by the children and uploaded at the school website and this
provided parents and community people with a window through which to view
the storytelling activities the children were undertaking and also read
their magical creations. Copies of stories were given as gifts to family and
friends. The transformative magic inherent in all the stories was then able
to affect many associated with the school community and their families.
choose your own adventures|
or whole class story creating|
animation of stories|
shows (finger puppets, hand puppets)|
productions and plays possibly videoed|
plays, audio retellings|
publications of stories|
the stories need to be shared so do the celebrations. Imagine parties, focus
days, fun days, inviting special guests, sharing stories with children in
other schools or with families in other communities..the possibilities are
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 –
1948) was a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian
Independence Movement and commonly known around the world as Mahatma
Gandhi or "Great Soul" and he was a practitioner of non-violence and
truth. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918- ) was the first President of South
Africa to be elected in a fully representative democratic election,
serving in the office from 1994–1999. Before his presidency, Mandela was
an anti-apartheid activist. Retrieved November 28, 2008 from