By teaching our students to think, care, and act, we empower them to build a peaceful future.

Welcome to Think, Care, Act, where teachers and students can find rationales and resources to infuse required curricula with peace, character, global, and multicultural concepts throughout the year.

To act in a world whose problems seem overwhelming requires being able to use the powers of critical and creative thinking and compassionate and inclusive care. Employing these tools, adults and youth alike can work effectively and conscientiously to solve problems big and small, global and local.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stopping Thoughtless and Violent Responses 2012-Part 1:

In the days and weeks following the release of Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video, many students asked me about the movie and the situation in Uganda.  “What can we do?  Have you seen the movie?  Can we buy an action kit?” 
Several teachers asked a more nuanced question, “What do you think?”  That’s the question we should be helping our students answer.
With the help of members of the Peace and Justice Studies Association, I offer several good resources to help ourselves and our students better analyze the Kony 2012 video and the aims of the organization that produced it.  More importantly, the information and links below propose nonviolent responses that (as history proves) will be much more likely to result in peacebuilding in Uganda. 
We and our students care about local and global injustice and violence.  However, “shoot from the hip” responses, as we too often see, do not yield lasting, peaceful and just outcomes.  Peacebuilder Betty Bigombe explains ongoing negotiations for peace in the video linked below. Project Plowshares advocates for stopping the weapons trade that fuels violent conflict.
After the dust settles, if you and your students are still interested, watch Bigombe’s short video together.  Or, have a class debate the pros and cons of various proposed responses.  Students could even discuss the pros and cons of distributing such a video to raise awareness of an important issue.  I am sure students will be engaged.  Resources include the following:
Project Ploughshares is an NGO that works “to advance policies and actions to prevent war and armed violence and build peace.” The response from Project Plowshares contains clear points and clear action alternatives to the video.  Excerpts are here and link to the full article is below:
1.       “The Kony 2012 video does not make clear that the LRA effectively stopped operating in Uganda in 2006. Kony and the LRA leadership originated in Northern Uganda, but have been roaming the inhospitable border zones of three neighbouring countries since 2008.
2.      Kony 2012 leaves the impression that sustaining the U.S. decision in October 2011 to assign 100 Special Operations military advisors to Uganda’s military is the key to arresting Kony in 2012. In fact, a military-led solution aided by the U.S. may not be the best option for stopping the LRA
3.      Finally, arresting Kony and others in the LRA leadership and handing them over to the International Criminal Court is not a panacea.
So what can we do?
Not mentioned in the video is the key role that the pervasive presence in East Africa of small arms and light weapons makes to sustaining the murderous rampage of the LRA and other marauding groups…..  [Show your] support from the grassroots up for a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty, which aims to stop atrocities fueled by irresponsible arms transfers. You can help by adding your voice to the Speak Out campaign. And you can follow this link to learn about the World Council of Churches Arms Trade Treaty Campaign....”
Betty Bigombe, is a Ugandan government minister and peace activist who has worked for peace in Uganda for decades.  Watching her 4-minute video will give students a much more hopeful, peace-oriented understanding of the Ugandan situation than Kony 2012 does.  The link for Betty Bigombe’s video is below.   
The Africa Faith and Justice Network issued a statement on non-military solutions in Uganda, including this passage: "While we acknowledge and denounce the terrible destruction brought about by Joseph Kony and his militia, and deplore the heart-breaking suffering imposed on so many ordinary people, we stand opposed to the choice of the Obama administration to send further military assistance to the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and the Republic of South Sudan as of October 14th 2011. We do not see that further militarization will be in the best interest of the peoples of these countries in the long term; rather we advocate for non-military support to be sent to deal with the complex political issues....”  The link to the website and full statement is below.
Invisible Children, the organization responsible for the video and information campaign, has issued responses to questions raised about the video.  Discussing these responses with students may help them think critically about the aims of Invisible Children.  Many students, for example, think 100% of their dollars spent at the site go directly to helping Ugandan children, women, and men.  They are surprised to learn that only 37% of funds raised by Invisible Children go to humanitarian programs in Uganda, while the rest is used for developing films and other programming.  For other critiques, see journalist Michael Wilkerson’s posting in Foreign Policy, linked below. 
Links to articles and video:

Sunday, March 4, 2012


As she usually does, Lady Gaga is grabbing attention.  This time, however, it is for the important cause of building a culture of love, compassion, and empowerment for youth.  At a Harvard Graduate School of Education event featuring Oprah Winfrey, secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius, and Deepak Chopra among others, Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta launched the Born This Way Foundation.  Nicholas Kristof summarized the background story in a New York Times article. The Born This Way Foundation website and YouTube videos provide background on the foundation’s philosophy. 
Gaga is seeking to empower youth to engage in transformative change in our culture to promote acceptance, respect, kindness, and civic engagement among youth.  Emphasizing the need for all youth to feel safe in school and online, to have the skills to interact respectfully with others, and to have the opportunity to effect positive social change, the Foundation is partnering with Harvard, the MacArthur Foundation, and others.  The long video of the event at HGSE might interest classroom teachers as a prompt for classroom discussion of school climate and individuals’ power to change negative energy to positive in schools and communities.  Gaga and the panelists frequently refer to various movements (civil rights, anti-smoking, women’s movement, etc.) and the grass roots empowerment that led to key societal transformations. 
Short (1:14) YouTube interview: Gaga and Oprah discuss “safety, skills, and opportunity,” the mission pillars of the foundation:
Long YouTube (1 hour+) video of the launch event:
Born This Way Foundation link to mission: