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The Peace Education Project

The Children's Peace Education project is a home and classroom curriculum for young children and is also a library of specially selected books to teach peacemaking with young children between one and six years of age.

There are six inter-related strands to the Peace Education Curriculum.

Click on a strand for more information about it or here to learn about all of them.

This website and interactive data base for selecting books, is the latest addition to our project. We hope you will find it inspiring and helpful.

Why Peace Education?

We live in a time when the nations of the world have the power to annihilate all people on the earth 15 times. Should that annihilation take place, it would, of course, take with it most plant and animal life and would destroy much of the fragile ecosystem that keeps the planet Earth a living entity. We also live at a time when violence is escalating on an international level, not just between nations but within. The victims of the violence are men, women and children of all colors, all creeds, and, of course, all ages.

This is also a time when racial, religious, class and cultural intolerance, is escalating into wide spread hatred and bigotry. Violence between groups of people is increasingly found in neighborhoods, schools, and within families. How do we raise healthy, strong children in a time like this? What do we need to do to give children the tools to find their way and to transform the world they are inheriting? Those are the questions of teachers and parents who care about peace education.

How Did The Peace Education Project Begin?

The Rosmarie Greiner Children’s Peace Library at Cabrillo Community College had its beginning in 1984 when Rosmarie, a Cabrillo Early Childhood Education faculty member, called together a small group of people and asked each of us to commit a small amount of money a month to enable her to take a leave of absence from her teaching so she could devote herself to thinking about Peace Education for the very young child. Rosmarie was born in Switzerland prior to the Second World War. She became a teacher there, then traveled to Peru where she taught in a poor barrio and eventually came to the United States. Here, she taught in urban and rural settings before working on a Master's Degree at U.C. Berkeley which led to her hire at Cabrillo in the ECE Department. A multi-lingual, life-long environmentalist and peace activist, she was fueled by her love of children and her deep understanding of the interdependence of all creatures on our planet.

During her "peace study" year Rosmarie traveled and talked with educators and parents from around the nation. How, she wondered, do you best help young children to grow into the kind of adults who will be able to become peacemakers? What are appropriate teaching approaches for two year olds, threes, fours, fives?  What is developmentally appropriate? From her thinking and discussions, she came to six basic themes that she believed would be most effective: Self awareness, awareness of others, conflict resolution, love of nature, imagination and global awareness. Each of these inter-related components provided a place to develop curriculum, and together, she believed, they manifested an integrated approach to peace education. She self-published her ideas in the form of a bibliography of children's books to be used in Peace Education.

Over the years, Rosmarie's colleagues continued to work with her model, experiment, try variations, watch children, and consult with families. Our understanding deepened as children responded to our work. Our commitments deepened as families and communities deepened our thinking. The current, always-in-process, model still has six strands, slightly different from the original, but true to the original vision.

Books for a Peaceful Community: The Children's Peace Education and Anti-bias Library

The Children's Peace Education Library began as a gift from another Early Childhood Education instructor, Margo Trombetta, who was teaching at Napa Community College. Margo had also grown up living in many parts of the world and became deeply committed to "living lightly" on the planet, and working carefully and thoughtfully to insure a safe a peaceful world for all children. Margo had consulted on Rosmarie's original manuscript, and believing that the work needed to be made available to a larger community of teachers and parents, she donated funds to begin buying the children’s books to create an actual library. Her family has continued that commitment and support and the library has evolved into its current collection of over 650+ of the highest quality children’s picture books, each supporting some strand of Peace Curriculum for the young child.

Now named the Children’s Peace and Anti-bias Library, the Library is a volunteer effort funded entirely by donations and staffed by students, faculty and community members in Santa Cruz California. The library is housed in the ECE Department at Cabrillo College where staff and students may borrow from the collection and use the books with children throughout the county. An interactive, computerized bibliography helps with selection of books for specific audiences and purposes. Students and staff provide public readings of the books in many venues.

How We Chose the Books

In order for books to be included in the library they must contain rich, enticing language; beautiful art work; and stories or poems that delight. The quality of the book is always the first indicator for inclusion and the books must support child development in one or more of the peace education strands. Additionally, the book cannot perpetuate stereotypes about any group of people or carry hurtful messages that misinform children about their world.

Visibility Affirms Reality
Invisibility Erases Identity and Experience

As we have worked with the library we have also become deeply convinced that books must bring visibility to all the children of our community. We have seen the destructive impact of children being unable to find their own families, their own life experiences reflected in books. We began to build a new book collection, the Anti-bias library, but soon realized that the two collections overlapped and that in fact, understanding our highly diverse world was a critical aspect of peace making. The two collections have now been combined, and the new name of the library reflects that melding.

A Curriculum in Process

We are hopeful that this website will provide direction and support families and to Early Childhood teachers who are concerned about supporting children to live as peace makers in our troubled world. Every year we learn more about how to use these books, about how to talk to children about human sameness and difference, about how to teach children conflict resolution skills and feed their innate sense of fairness and unfairness. We will continue to add books to the data base as they are published and will share our struggles and successes as we go. We hope you will contact us with your experiences and best thinking. Peace making is a collective effort. Our children are counting on us.

Let us know how your work is going by writing us.

Content is Copyright 2006-2012, Julie Olsen Edwards.
Website and database design are Copyright 2006-2012, Habib Krit.