Garn Press Author Reading Series: Esther Sokolov Fine Reads From Raising Peacemakers

Esther Fine’s Raising Peacemakers (AmazonBarnes & Noble) takes on even more significance in light of the bullying that has taken place during the presidential election. Now, as the President Elect puts his transition team together it is clear that the bullying will continue and the term “the bully pulpit” takes on new and disturbing overtones casting long shadows over all of us especial children, the vulnerable and the dispossessed.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a report on the impact of the presidential campaign on our nations schools.

The SPLC Report states:

It’s producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported.

Other students have been emboldened by the divisive, often juvenile rhetoric in the campaign. Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.

SPLC also report that:

  • More than two-thirds of the teachers reported that students—mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims—have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election.
  • More than half have seen an increase in uncivil political discourse.
  • More than one-third have observed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment.
  • More than 40 percent are hesitant to teach about the election.

The problem is that it is no longer about the election it is about the next four years of the Presidency. We now know right-wingers from the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Foundation will head the education transition team. And that the President Elect will focus on “a new way of how to deliver public education”, which will accelerate the changes that are already taking place to the structure of the US education system to privilege educational entrepreneurship and strong public and private school options.

Combine this American Enterprise-Hoover Foundation model of public education put in place by an ill prepared Executive Branch in denial of climate change with a Congress in which the majority hold similar views, then there is not the remotest possibility that public education political mandates will become more equitable or ethically conscious of the indisputable fact that the children in our public schools will be ill-prepared to respond to rapidly changing conditions of human existence on the planet.

It is from this perspective that Garn Press encourages you to make Esther Fine’s Raising Peacemakers one of the central pillars of your public school teaching. It is 25 years since Esther embarked on her children as peacemakers mission. The research is solid and in Raising Peacemakers Esther imparts to us the wisdom we need right now to create curricular practices and ways of working with children that privilege kindness and empathy and are in the final analysis totally humane. If our children are to survive these ugly times when the U.S. has a President whose personal self aggrandizement is an anathema to so many who are generous and kind in society Esther will show us the way. Raising Peacemakers is an antidote to the man who will be in the Oval Office, and who over us will reign.

Raising Peacemakers

Raising Peacemakers by Esther Sokolov Fine tells a twenty-two year story of kids growing up with peacemaking as their foundation. At Downtown Alternative School (DAS), a small public elementary school in Toronto, child-to-child conflicts were understood as opportunities. Children and adults worked hard to create a warm inclusive community where differing viewpoints and disagreements could be handled fairly and safely.

While the book includes documentation and transcripts, it’s a narrative rather than an academic text. It’s the author’s story and many stories. It’s a trail of re-thinking, negotiating and re-negotiating, solving and re-solving (occasionally resolving) teaching and learning dilemmas. It’s a tale of one school’s brave and optimistic effort to create and sustain healthy, safe, equitable, and academically relevant conditions for and with people whose lives were and are at stake in public education. It’s about children and adults growing together as they discover more about what it means (and what it takes) to become responsible citizens who care about each other, about their community, and about the world.

Between their many inevitable conflicts, encouraged by adults, DAS children established their own rituals. They would double-cross their arms and clasp fingers in a group handshake to mark the conclusion of “a peacemaking.” They would wipe away tears, giggle, move on to other things, or resume their play. They were learning to express themselves, listen, and include. The adults learned to hold back, hover, and accept what for the children constituted resolution, even when they (the adults) did not always fully get it.

The DAS community was dedicated to the serious work, and to the joy, of respectful relationships and power sharing. This book invites you to step back more than twenty years to learn about how this began and what keeps it alive to this day.

esther-fine-2Raising Peacemakers

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-19-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942146-12-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-13-1
Hardcover: $24.95 USD – Purchase on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Paperback: $17.95 USD
eBook: $9.99 USD – Purchase on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Purchase the Raising Peacemakers print book on Amazon and buy the Amazon Kindle ebook version for just $2.99. All of Garn’s Amazon Kindle eBooks are now available through Amazon’s “MatchBook” program! When you buy the print version you can also get the Kindle version for just $2.99. If you have previously purchased any Garn print book from at any time in the past, you can also now buy the Kindle version for the same $2.99.


Raising Peacemakers shows that an authentic approach to managing child-to-child conflicts, learned in kindergarten, stayed with young children as they grew into adolescence and adulthood. It demonstrates by contrary example the profound error of standardized programs-in-a-box for “conflict resolution” and, by implication, much else in education.” – Carole Edelsky

“Esther Fine’s stories let readers learn how “doing peace” made and sustained lasting, positive changes in students’ lives.” – Patrick Willard Shannon

“Raising Peacemakers” is so much more than a well-designed blueprint for creating an alternative dispute resolution system in public schools. It is a deeply felt, albeit subtle, argument for the need throughout society for similar methods to resolve the disputes that separate and divide. Entertainingly written, “Raising Peacemakers” should be read by anyone who deals with disagreements, whether between children, between adults or between entire nations. There is much to be learned from the directness and simplicity of children.” – Amazon Customer

“Raising Peacemakers” is an inspiring look at the effects an innovative elementary school program had on the lives of the parents, teachers, and students involved. But even more than that, it shows what children are capable of when they’re empowered to solve their own conflicts and take control over their lives. In this world of helicopter parenting and protecting children from little failures, I think this is a powerful argument for allowing kids to work through their own challenges, with guidance, yes, but with the freedom to take missteps and learn from their mistakes – Amazon Customer

A stellar book for parents, teachers and all who care about the next generation. Clearly, we’d be living in a different kind of world if those holding the reins of power had been nurtured by the likes of Esther Sokolov Fine. Brava for sharing your experiences and ideas in this “fine” book! – Amazon Customer


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