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 24, 2020

Parenting in Pandemic: Caring & Curiosity with Covid-19

During the Covid19 pandemic, I’ve been “sheltering in place,” thinking of ways to be helpful without risking my health or the health of others. I’ve been sharing ideas for pandemic exercise and fun with family members who are home with kids of various ages. It’s time to share them with you, my blog community! This blog begins with links to psychologists’ advice to those who are caring for children, adolescents, and college students. It continues with exercise links and activity links for young and old. This blog ends in nature and silliness ("pandemonium?").

 Radio Times Podcast: Parenting During the Pandemic
Let’s start with some sanity and guidance for parents and guardians, provided by Marti Moss-Coane and guests on WHYY, Philadelphia’s public radio station. This Radio Times broadcast has great advice for “parenting during the pandemic.”

“Families are under an incredible amount of stress right now. They are of course worried about COVID-19 but many parents are also worried about their jobs, about paying the bills, and about putting food on the table. And on top of all that, schools are closed and parents are caring for their kids around the clock and even trying to homeschool them. This hour, we’ll talk with psychologist TINA BRYSON about the strain families are feeling and healthy ways they can try to cope. We’ll also hear from IMANI PERRY, author of Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, about how she’s spending time at home with her two teenagers. But first, we start off looking at how Philadelphia’s school students are doing and how the district is trying to meet their needs. Philadelphia School District Superintendent WILLIAM HITE joins us to talk about the support they are providing their families.”  See details below.

How are school districts dealing?
You may find the initial interview with Dr. James Hite, superintendent of Philly schools interesting. He deals with inequities among neighborhoods, the differing burdens on families, and School District resources.

Advice for Parents, Guardians, Caregivers: Dr. Tina Bryson
At 14:00, find Dr. Tina Bryson’s practical and soothing advice for parents during this challenging time.
·      PODCAST LINK


“We can’t bubble wrap our children:”
Dr. Bryson’s overarching message is to be emotionally present for our children, despite our present concerns about health, finances, and security and despite our personal flaws and limitations.  Remember, she says, “We set the emotional tone for our children….We cannot bubble-wrap our children and protect them from everything, but our job isn’t to fix everything, but to walk with our children through it.”  Don’t over-listen to the news, she suggests, thus making our kids swim in it with us. Instead, we can help them process their emotions by helping them “name it to tame it.”
·      See Tina Bryson’s webpage for more resources. https://www.tinabryson.com/#home-page


Dr. Imani Perry: What is our “mutual destiny?”
Introduced at 32 minutes into the podcast, Dr. Imani Perry suggests, “Kids all over the world are experiencing this, so trying to figure out how to usher them through this is much more important (than the academic load). Use music, dancing, jokes, she encourages, as her grandmother did during another dangerous time of Jim Crow. “Find small pleasure every day and relish them.”  Both guests encourage us to raise ethical questions with older kids, in hopes they will embrace our “mutual destiny” to make a better world once we get through this crisis.
·      Dr. Imani Perry’s video interview with Krista Tippett at Chautauqua Institute is here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?463088-2/breathe

·      Dr. William Hite and Philadelphia School District resources are here: https://www.philasd.org

Move it or lose it?
Some of you have active children and/or you need a good workout yourself. Check out these daily aerobic exercise classes to get your heart rate up: Exercise with Joe is amazing! (Not for the faint hearted!)  Or, try something meditative and invigorating, like tai chi or yoga. See resources below.

P. E. with JOE!
Can't beat his enthusiasm! On his YouTube Channel (Body Coach TV) Joe shares a new 30-minute YouTube class for kids daily. Scroll past his first talky intro. Tune in for daily workouts. Kids all over the world are participating, and he announces their locations with joy.

Short Workouts from NYTimes:
Here is the link for 6 and 9 minute workouts:


Try Tai Chi!
Not into aerobics? I do tai chi every day, and I am trying to learn the Eight Brocades, slow and meditative, Qigong exercises.  



These “smooth, silken movements” are beautifully explained and led by Mimi Kuo-Deemer in an 18-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K-0JpiJu-o



Sit in your chair for Yoga!
·      Here is a 10-minute chair yoga routine with good explanations: https://www.verywellfit.com/chair-yoga-poses-3567189


Lower your expectations! There are NUMEROUS academic resources available online for children of all ages. Perhaps your child’s school has assigned a long list of activities. Remember the wise words of Dr. Bryson: “Now is not the time when you have to win the best parent of the year award… lower our expectations.” And don’t forget Dr. Perry’s advice “to find the small pleasures every day and relish them,”

The activities below can be fun for various ages of children.

Scholastic has provided various grade levels with videos and activities for pre-school thru grade-school. Remember, for beginning readers go down a grade level at least! Browse around, choose a video to watch together (I like the bunnies), then try a short activity.

Travel and Leisure Magazine has provided a link to virtually tour twelve art museums. Awesome. Follow with drawing or painting with kids! Want a geography or math lesson? Plan an itinerary to visit one of these museums on day.


We got STEM: These 18 Craft Ideas for Kids from Smart Schoolhouse are so cool! They include making giant bubble mix, microwaving soap... and crafting a geodesic dome! You likely have the materials at home. Unfortunately, you must scroll through numerous ads.



Play with beans, egg cartons, and your imagination or read with Grandma!
I video with my grandson while he shows me the cool activities his mom “cooks up” each day. They are using colorful beads, but you can also try dried beans or noodles. I’m so grateful they video-visit with me. I reciprocate by reading a story to my grandchildren to give their parents a few minutes of rest. Calvin and Hobbes are the current favorites. Do you have some elders who’d enjoy a video visit, card, or call? 


Nature heals us in mind, body, and spirit.
Some of us are lucky enough to be able to go outside. Some of us cannot. I took photos on a nature walk and sent them to my grandchildren with a scavenger hunt list of items to spot. Maybe they will draw some of the plants or make their own rock tower and play “I spy!”  No nature nearby? Take my scavenger hunt nature walk with your child!

“Let's go on a spring nature walk! Who can find flowers? Two are Bloodroot and Violet. Can you find some cool rocks? Can you find some fungi that looks like turkey tails? How about a bunny tail? Can you find prickly leaves? How about a tree tunnel or red berries--NO EATING! Can you find something that looks like a tiny pine tree? It's really a moss! How about Usnea Lichen? I think it looks like a scratchy beard! Can you find a plant with a square stem? That means it’s part of the mint family. Do you have any mint in your house? Can you find a flower with stars inside? What else can you find on our nature walk! What can you find looking out your window or near where you live?

PANDEMONIUM: Do something silly and fun.
Bang some pots and pans with your neighbors, or do a "social distancing drum circle" like we did with our neighbors. The kids danced, the dogs barked, passersby honked, and we had fun drumming away our Covid-19 concerns. 

May we all find and provide comfort with each other, through families, friends, and members of our local and global communities. Stay well and savor our time together.
 3-24-20 Susan Gelber Cannon




Sunday, October 6, 2019

THE COST OF WAR SINCE 9-11-2001 (AND TOOLS TO WORK FOR PEACE)

Visiting the 9-11 Memorial for the first time, I perceived that the waterfall represented a torrent of tears to allow visitors to mourn and find solace.  

Photo by Peter Lalor 

Photo by Susan Cannon
However, I did not perceive that the monument would encourage visitors to atone for all violence and to work for peace among all people. I bemoaned the lost potential of the “9-11-moment” to enable the United States forge alliances of good will and peace immediately after the disaster.  I recalled my visit to Hiroshima, Japan, and the Peace Park’s overwhelming message: “Never again.”

Sadly, since 9-11-2001, according to the Brown University Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs’ 2018 “Costs of War” report, the United States has spent nearly $6 trillion on wars that have contributed to the deaths of around 500,000 people since the 9/11 attacks.  How many of us consider these staggering figures?  How many of us teach about them?

The annual report considers obvious and hidden war-related spending, including obligations for veterans’ care, debt, reconstruction costs, and the long-term effect on the U.S. economy. "The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post 9/11 war veterans…."

The study concludes: "In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable. The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities."

These are just the economic costs. What about the human costs? The Brown University report states: “All told, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This tally of the counts and estimates of direct deaths caused by war violence does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the US joined in August 2014.”  The study goes on to discuss indirect deaths of civilians, journalists, and humanitarian workers, and ongoing human rights abuses, deterioration of the environment, displacement of citizens, and unsafe conditions for refugees.
  

Learn and Teach about the 9-11 Memorial 

When I taught middle school, I started each September with lessons on the 9-11 attack, focusing on past uses of terror (including by the Ku Klux Klan, a white, Christian terrorist group). I wanted my students to understand that terrorists are not from one race, religion, creed, or national background.  We analyzed media coverage and discussed ways various media manipulate consumers with hyperbole.  We observed the difference between information and sensationalism.  We discussed the difference between patriotism and nationalism, the resilience and determination of first responders and survivors, and the resolve students young and old can show as we work for a peaceful world.  The unit culminated in action coordinated with the International Day of Peace, commemorated annually on September 21.

In response to my visit to the 9-11 Memorial, I offer the following resources to teachers.  It is urgent that we take every opportunity to help our students understand the costs of violence and war and our ability and duty as citizens to prevent it.  The memorial offers us an entry to these lessons.


The memorial is somber and beautiful. I have shown videos of interviews with the architect Michael Arad to my students, and they have appreciated his goals. Links are below to help students envision the memorial through the eyes of the designer. Arad told ABC news he wanted to “create a place that allowed people to come together to reflect on what happened here, not alone but as a community in a public space where people gather and congregate…. Could I bring that idea of emptiness, this continuous presence, and making absence present and visible, and tangible to the site?” 

The 9-11 Memorial Website has deep education resources, including well-articulated goals that include ongoing research into the events of 9-11-2001, critical thinking about the aftermath, and promoting civic engagement and volunteerism. Lesson plans for various grade levels include such topics as grieving and heroism, making a memorial, and critical thinking about such topics as “airport security versus civil liberties.” 

·      9-11-Memorial & Museum Website Homepage: https://www.911memorial.org/memorial

·      Education Goals: https://www.911memorial.org/education-goals
·      Lesson Plans for various grade levels include critical thinking opportunities to allow students to explore topics such as “airport security versus civil liberties.” https://www.911memorial.org/lesson-plans

·      Architect Michael Arad’s Interview with ABC News Article (Good summary of designer’s goals): https://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/09/911-memorial-offers-quiet-amid-new-york-chaos-designer-michael-arad-says/

·      Studio 360’s 4-Minute Video: 9/11 Memorial Tour With Architect Michael Arad  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xBfiJkratE

Making Absence Visible: Michael Arad at TEDxWall Street (12-Minute Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLKWiEeLIsU

Learn and Teach about the Cost of War

Painting by J. Kadir Cannon
If we and our students knew the true costs of war on soldier and civilian alike, on our environment, on our nation’s aging infrastructure, on our education and healthcare systems, on the potential for global security, and more—would we continue to support the military-industrial complex and its incessant drive to war?  I don’t think so.  It is our duty to learn and teach about the true costs of war.  These links are a good place to start.
Painting by J. Kadir Cannon

·      Brown University Costs of War Homepage: https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/

  • GOALS of the Costs of War Project: The project aims to help students consider alternatives to war and the long-term effects of war on the United States and the world in terms of economic, public health, and other human and ecological costs. Goals also include exploring how “to identify less costly and more effective ways to prevent further terror attacks.” (6-minute video) https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/about

·      Costs of War: Concise Summary: https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers/summary

·      Costs of War Overview: https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/figures

·      Human Cost of War: the Human Toll of the Post 9-11 Wars (4-minute Video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVr0MSEW2SU

·      Newsweek article: U.S. HAS SPENT SIX TRILLION DOLLARS ON WARS THAT KILLED HALF A MILLION PEOPLE SINCE 9/11, REPORT SAYS  Newsweek’s November 2018 Article on Brown University Report with charts and graphics helpful for analyzing data is best viewed on laptop or projected for discussion with students.  https://www.newsweek.com/us-spent-six-trillion-wars-killed-half-million-1215588

Learn and Teach about Civic Action


I’ve often quoted educator Sister Joan Magnetti's query: “We overwhelm children with all the suffering and evil in the world, but do we enable them to act?” Indeed, we must empower our students (and ourselves) to take action, even against seemingly insurmountable institutions such as militarism and war. These links are a good place to begin empowering students to take action large and small in their local and global communities.  Let's turn a torrent of tears into a torrent of action. 


·      Washington Post article: WHAT AMERICA COULD DO WITH EUROPEAN LEVELS OF MILITARY SPENDING  “Depending on which expert you ask, the chronic social ills the United States could go a long way toward addressing with an extra $3 trillion per decade include: homelessness, child poverty, college tuition costs, the national student debt burden, a lack of affordable child care and long-term health care for the elderly. It could also accomplish several key goals of the president, or go a long way to help balancing U.S. books….”   https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/07/12/what-america-could-do-with-european-levels-military-spending/

·      American Friends Service Committee links to Wage Peace: “Wage Peace uses creative and visual grassroots education and organizing to develop new constituencies for the intersection of peace and justice work, as we work toward a broadened and diversified movement of people who will support policies that challenge militarism at home and abroad, and support the growth and well-being of communities with their policymakers at all levels.”  https://www.afsc.org/key-issues/campaign/wage-peace

o   Humanize not Militarize Educational Toolkit: https://www.afsc.org/resource/humanize-not-militarize-training-resources

·      Friends Committee on National Legislation has tools for approaching Congressional representatives on war budget issues

·      Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots aims “to empower young people to affect positive change in their communities:” https://www.rootsandshoots.org

·      PeaceJam (Nobel Peace Prize Winners and Youth) Founders Dawn and Engel and Ivan Suvanjieff assert that “average, ordinary people can tackle the toughest issues facing humanity.”  http://www.peacejam.org
o   Billion Acts of Peace links to examples of youth action on demilitarization, clean environment, human rights, global health and wellness, conflict resolution, and more. https://billionacts.org

·      Sue Cannon’s Middle School lessons on media literacy from 9-11 to 9-21: https://thinkcareact.blogspot.com/2012/09/investigating-media-from-september-11.html

Susan Gelber Cannon, October 2019