The Power of Positive Peer Pressure

by Marsha Rakestraw A 2012 survey of teen volunteers revealed that the main reason teens volunteer is because their friends are doing it. As social animals we pay attention to what those around us are doing; and because we like to feel part of the “in” crowd, we’re often willing to conform so that we’re…

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protestors

5 Assumptions We Should Try to Make About Everyone

by Marsha Rakestraw The recent US election has highlighted a significant divisiveness. And the media and social media have been awash in hate speech and arguments, calls for healing and moving on, judgments, ideas about next steps, and assumptions. Usually when we make assumptions about others, they’re not positive ones. We tend to make split-second…

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cultivating compassion

Practices for Cultivating Compassionate Communication Skills

by Marsha Rakestraw Sometimes I have a dream in which I run door-to-door in my neighborhood. I bang on the door until someone answers, and then I grab them by the shirt and scream at them to stop doing things that hurt other beings and to start being compassionate RIGHT NOW! Fortunately, I have better…

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war & peace

Children’s Picture Books About War and Peace

by Marsha Rakestraw Some children have known war their entire lives. As journalist and peace teacher, Colman McCarthy says, “Why are we violent, but not illiterate? Because we are taught to read.” We teach children science, math and competition, but not peace. We offer them lessons on good character and anti-bullying, but often don’t model…

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What Makes a Humane Being?

What Makes a Humane Being?

What are the most desirable and undesirable qualities of humans? Use sample stories and pictures to help students identify our best (and worst) qualities and how we can encourage humane qualities in ourselves and others. Recommended for grades 3 through 6. Time: 30-60 minutes   Common Core Standards for this activity (pdf): Download Common Core…

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