GARN RECOMMENDED READING: Raising Peacemakers by Esther Sokolov Fine
A weekly book series from Garn Press featuring our recommended book for the week. This week’s recommended reading: Raising Peacemakers by Esther Sokolov Fine. Paperback book ON SALE, 20% off on Amazon, $14.35. 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.
Author: Esther Sokolov Fine
Garn Press (132 pp.)
$22.51 hardcover, $14.35 paperback (ON SALE ON AMAZON), $9.99 e-book, $2.99 through Kindle Matchbook Program
Paperback & Hardcover Available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound (local bookstore)
eBook Available: Amazon
About 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.
“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
Raising Peacemakers – Tote Bag and Coffee Mug
The all-over printed tote is printed using the sublimation technique, meaning that every inch (excluding the handles) is printed on.
100% spun polyester weather resistant fabric
Dual handles 100% natural cotton bull denim
Bag 15″ x 15″ (38.1cm x 38.1cm)
100% Made in California
Purchase: Shop at the Garn Store
Purchase: Shop at the Garn Store
This sturdy white, glossy ceramic mug is an essential to your cupboard. Looking for the perfect amount of your hot beverage without refills? Search no more. This brawny version of ceramic mugs shows its true colors with quality assurance to withstand heat in the microwave and put it through the dishwasher as many times as you like, the quality will not be altered.
About Esther Sokolov Fine
Esther Sokolov Fine is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University, in Toronto, Canada, where she has taught since 1991. Before coming to York, she was an elementary teacher with the Toronto Board of Education. There, she taught in downtown public housing communities and alternative programs, including four years at the Downtown Alternative School (DAS). The book Children as Peacemakers (1995), which she co-authored with teachers Ann Lacey and Joan Baer, presents a history of the Downtown Alternative School and tells about the early years of peacemaking.
Reflecting on her own early life, Esther writes: “The best part of school was when librarian Mrs. Barnes and some of our homeroom teachers read aloud from wonderful books. The worst part was the long walk home from school, crossing the vacant lot by myself on a narrow path that led to Lilac Street.”
Since 1993 Esther has been engaged in video research with the same group of students, teachers and parents. In this research (largely funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada—SSHRC) she and filmmaker Roberta King have watched these children grow up and filmed and interviewed many of them, their families, and their teachers across this 20+ year period. Details and edited film from this work can be seen at www.childrenaspeacemakers.ca. A feature documentary, Life at School: the DAS Tapes, was launched in 2001.
Esther teaches pre-service and graduate courses in creative writing, literacy, adolescent and children’s literature, critical pedagogy, and models (alternative models) of education. She was born in Detroit and attended the University of Michigan where, in 1968, she won a Hopwood Award for fiction. Esther completed her doctoral studies in 1990 at the University of Toronto (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) and her MFA in creative writing in 2003 at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Esther has lived in Toronto since the 1960s. She has an adult daughter, Keira, who possesses outstanding social skills and makes her mother proud and grateful every day.