________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 19 . . . . May 23, 2003

cover

Learning Peace.

Teresa MacInnes (Director and writer). Kent Martin & Peter d’Entremont (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2002.
57 min., VHS, $49.95.
Order Number: C9101 205.

Subject Headings:
School violence - Video recording.
Violence - Video recording.

Professional.

Review by Ann Ketcheson

**** /4

excerpt:

"Over the course of a year, it becomes clear that peace is hard work but well worth the effort."

In an elementary school with over 700 children, there are bound to be disputes. But when school violence and bullying became major problems, the administration, staff and students at Annapolis East Elementary School needed to take action. This video, Learning Peace, follows them on one year of their journey to improve school life.

     The peace initiative encouraged students to accept cultural, religious and physical differences and not to resort to any violence, including subtle verbal violence. The staff had to learn new ways to discipline and new strategies for reinforcing good behaviour. In some cases, parents, too, needed to rethink their own methods of dealing with their children.

     Time in classrooms and in the office was dedicated to teaching new ways of handling everyday life rather than settling fights. Children were guided in areas of self control and anger management. They learned that along with rights must inevitably come responsibilities. Strategies used at the school included a new discipline plan for repeat offenders. Peer mediation was introduced. A time out system involving a full time counselor helped many children.

     In the end, the complex process of learning peace which the school began in 1996 paid dividends: violence reports steadily decreased, and the school environment became happier and less tense. In June, children were able to celebrate their accomplishments with a peace week.

     My only concern and it is a slight one is that the focus of the video is almost completely on the boys at the school, giving the impression that violence isn't a problem among girls. Current research does not support that. And some of the adults in the video seem just a little too good to be true but perhaps I'm rather cynical!

     Despite those few reservations, this is a good video which includes concrete and positive suggestions for dealing with school violence, and it is well worth watching for anyone involved in education and/or parenting: administration at all levels, school trustees, school staffs and parents. It is the second film in the “Children, Peace and Education” series, which also features Waging Peace and Teaching Peace.

Recommended with reservations.

Ann Ketcheson is a former teacher of high school English and French and currently is the teacher librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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