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Peace Education in Northern Ireland


Posted: December 4th, 2007

In January, 2008 Marie McIntyre and Margaret Neeson from St. Aidan’s Christian Brothers’ Primary School in Belfast spent a week in Nova Scotia. We visited Ross Road School, Basinview Community School, St. Patrick’s–Alexandra School and Southdale-North Woodside School.

Marie and Margaret returned to Belfast with new ideas and a rekindled enthusiasm for continuing to encourage their pupils to be understanding and respectful of others and solve their problems peacefully.

A reciprocal visit in February was a wonderful way to visit schools in Belfast and conduct several presentations to introduce PSI. Vince MacDonald offered a full day workshop entitled “Healing the Wounded School” and Rick Lewis offered a one-day “Peacemaker” training session for a group of pupils from three schools. Joining us was a group of 12 students from Saint Mary’s University with their advisor, Bridget Brownlow. During the week they ran conflict resolution workshops at a number of elementary and secondary schools.

As a result of our visit, we have been asked to return in December, 2008 to facilitate a more in-depth three day workshop. The themes for this session will be:

Building a Peaceful School: Pro-Active Strategies to Create a Culture of Peace
Enhancing Healthy Relationships: Skill-based Interactions in the Peaceful School
Solving Problems:Institutionalizing the Structures and Processes of Peace

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The Troubles Within… Documentary Film
In 2006, members of "Students for Teaching Peace" spent a week in Northern Ireland. The film clips below are from the documentary film entitled "The Troubles Within" which chronicles their experiences. (It is available for sale in the PSI store )

 

 


Through the assistance of officials at the Canadian High Commission in London and of John de Chastelain, a member of the PSI International Advisory Board and Chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, a five-person delegation spent a number of days in Canada in October interacting with Canadian educators.

Then-Principal Jim Clarke, and music teacher/choir director Isabel Russell of St. Gabriel’s College; Sandra Perry of Edenbrooke Primary School; and Michelle McCluskey and Arlene Connor of Cooperation Ireland participated fully in all activities including a visit to Annapolis East Elementary School. It was agreed that a PSI delegation would make a reciprocal visit to Belfast as soon as possible.

The PSI team spent an educational week in Belfast in March of 2002. Meetings were held with the Honorable Martin McGuinness, the then-Minister for Education; the Belfast Education and Library Board; and the Lord Mayor of Belfast. Education officials, principals, teachers, students and members of the interested public attended a one-day PSI workshop at St. Gabriel’s College and a seminar was held for the staff at Edenbrooke Primary School.

With the encouragement and support of Minister McGuinness, it was decided to hold a workshop in Belfast in January of 2003. Its purposes would be to introduce PSI to Northern Ireland, exchange information, share innovative practices in creating and maintaining peaceful schools and ensuring that the results of such an event were put to good use in the future.

With the strong support of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Bombardier Aerospace of Northern Ireland and the staffs of St. Gabriel’s and Edenbrooke, plans were made, speakers invited, invitations were extended and the event was expanded to include a distinct day of musical entertainment.

The workshop portion consisted of an opening plenary session, three series of concurrent presentations and a concluding plenary that reviewed the day’s proceedings and looked to the future. The performance of the “All Ireland” choir, directed by Isabel Russel of St. Gabriel’s College, provided evidence that there are many ways of creating peaceful schools.

In February of 2005, a group of three from Barnardos spent a week in NS to visit schools and hold discussions about the road ahead. As a result, Barnardos has agreed to launch and coordinate PSI in Northern Ireland. Several representatives of PSI will be helping with this launch in Belfast in September.

In January, 2008, two teachers from St. Aidan’s Primary School will visit Nova Scotia to learn more about PSI. This will be followed by a visit to St. Aidan’s in February by Rick Lewis, PSI Regional Coordinator in Florida, Vince MacDonald, author of "Healing the Wounded School" and Hetty van Gurp.

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