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Feb. 28, 2007

Not-at-homework

by Josie Callahan, Online Features Editor and Copy Editor
On Jan. 27, Peace Studies teacher Joanne Malone positioned herself in the midst of a crowd of approximately 500,000 anti-war demonstrators, on the side street of the National Mall where she promised her first and third period peace studies students could find her. But for the students in Malone's Peace Studies classes, attending the protest was more than a show of expression; it was a homework assignment.

Malone has taught Peace Studies since 2000, when she first came to Blair, but this year is the first time that Malone has made it a class requirement for students to attend a workshop, demonstration or other event outside of class that pertains to the nonviolent and peaceful goals of the class. "Getting involved is a different, more active and effective way of taking a stand against violence," she says. After attending a workshop or an event, Malone says, the students are expected to informally tell the class about their experience and write follow-up journal entries, reflecting on how they plan to use or not use what they learned in their everyday lives.

Nonviolent, Non-optional

Malone says protests and demonstrations are among several options for students. "I can't force people to go to demonstrations, that wouldn't be right," she says. "I can, however, require them to get involved in something outside of class which pertains to the course." Aside from war protests, students in Peace Studies classes have attended other events such as American Friends Service Committee Training in Nonviolent Techniques and Creative Peacemaking, a workshop at American University. Malone encourages her students to look for unique opportunities and workshops to get involved in the nonviolent movement and share their ideas with the class.

Malone decided to make acts of peace a requirement because of her faith in the nonviolent activism and community she sees in the school. "If I was teaching at another school, I may not have done this, but I know there is a strong opposition to war at Blair," she says.

Power of the people

Though she did not require that all of her students attend the Jan. 27 rally, Malone expressed the benefits of attending such a large-scale protest to those who were interested. "Just to observe the phenomenon of half a million people united under the same purpose shows the power that the people have in a democracy and empowers you to take a stand," she says.

For Peace Studies students Claire Lieberman and Daniel Keller, both of whom attended the rally, the nonviolent display was an empowering opportunity. "I got the sense of community of people united against the war, which is not often represented," says Lieberman. "Seeing this made me feel justified in my opposition to the war."

Keller fully supports Malone's requirement for students to take part in a nonviolent activity. "It is important for kids to have the hands on experience of taking a stand for something they believe in or getting involved outside the classroom," he says.

Social Studies Department Chair, George Vlasits, fully supports the concept of requiring students to attend a nonviolent activity outside of Peace Studies class. "It is an excellent way to make what is taught in Peace Studies real and concrete, and experience first hand the things that you cannot gain from lectures and textbooks," he says.

To Malone, Peace Studies serves to enlighten students about different views of nonviolence in society, and getting involved whether it is through a protest, workshop or another nonviolent cause is the best way to see the peace movement in society. "To read about it is one thing, but to experience the power of the people united, that is the nonviolent movement taken to the next level," she says.



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  • offended on February 28, 2007 at 8:53 PM
    I think it is awful that students are required to attend non-violent activities for peace studies class. Students should not attend protests and similar events because they have to; instead, students should only do things because they themselves feel passionately about it. Going to a protest for the sake of going to a protest defeats the purpose of the protest, and is insulting for the people who go to the protest because they have strong feelings on the issue.
  • ummm on February 28, 2007 at 9:47 PM
    wait... this is kinda... ummm why is she doing this? why should a kid be required to participated to do something related to the course outside of class? that's a little ridiculous. for instance, some people believe in the iraq war cause and i understand that you know, you dont have to do anything against the iraq war... but why something peace related... what if you dont want to?
  • blazer on February 28, 2007 at 11:13 PM
    excellent.
    sometimes I wish we had more elective choices. I'd take peace studies in a heartbeat.
  • someone on March 1, 2007 at 11:17 AM
    Sorry, but peace in the world is ideal but not achievable. There are too many people who want to do the oposite, to just lift your hands in the air to surrender is not an option.
  • i take peace studies on March 1, 2007 at 8:07 PM
    Going to a protest is not the only option for fulfilling this assignment. There are alot of workshops, museum exhibits and seminars that Ms. Malone gives us information about if we don't want to go to a protest against the war. Everyone who is enrolled obviously has some interest in learning about non-violent action, so what's the big deal about having to explore it further outside of class?
  • support of protests on March 1, 2007 at 8:24 PM
    i agree with the statement in the article that says that it is a good experience to see a large-scale rally. I went to one once on capitol hill and it was an incredible experience. u see people come from all over the country just to show their support. when people picture a protest they may picture what happened during our protest against the new tardy policy. this is simply not the case. it was insane seeing people from coast to coast and whether i support the issue or not didnt matter. It showed me how tons of people not only support one side of an issue but care enough to take a long trip just to prove their point. It was very inspiring. And made me feel more likely to go to them more often just because of that incredible connection u feel to a ton of complete strangers because u share a common opinion.
  • second that idea on March 1, 2007 at 8:24 PM
    What the last guy just sed is so rite.
  • agreement on March 1, 2007 at 8:25 PM
    i may be on the positive side but how can u miss the evidence. great writing from the 'supporter'
  • ... on March 1, 2007 at 8:50 PM
    only at blair...
  • read the article on March 1, 2007 at 10:01 PM
    She is not requiring students to go to specific protests, just to get involved in something they believe in outside of school.
  • hard core dem on March 1, 2007 at 10:12 PM
    yea, hey geniuses, the whole purpose of peace studies is to learn how u can contribute to the world by not trying to BRING PEACE but to try everything u can to bring the world to peace, this earth is covered with human beings, wars, hatred and bad things will NEVER stop and i think it is impossible. But u know what u can still increase the chances of making the world a better place and the WORD 'peace' involves sacrifices like weekend protests, or other protests, it is even a shame to have to tell people and constantly remind them to make a simple change for the good. yea and i guess taking students outside of class for a field trip isn't the same thing????? WAKE UP!!!!!!y would u take the class in the first place if u didn't care about the class.
  • Joel on March 1, 2007 at 11:53 PM
    I think the key to the assignment is this: "attend a workshop, demonstration or other event outside of class that pertains to the nonviolent and peaceful goals of the class." They don't have to protest something. And it makes sense that they should have to attend something pertaining to the course outside of class- isn't that exactly what homework is? If you sign up to take an elective course called "peace studies," you should expect to have to do something pertaining to peace. Perhaps study it, even. Even if that is at a protest or a workshop.
  • protesting is ineffective on March 4, 2007 at 12:03 PM
    The problem I have with this is not the assignment, but the protests themselves. The fundamental error of the disenfranchised is that they can effect change by clogging up streets, yelling and chanting and ultimately acting like the disorganized rabble they are.

    Instead of doing that, which will never work and only results in a loss of the credibility of the protesters to those in power, they should get politicians in office who represent their views. Or work through the judicial branch.

    Take, for example, the Civil Rights Movement. Yes, protests were staged, but real progress and real change was effected through the courts, specifically the NAACP's efforts in the Supreme Court over decades. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work, not just the result of one big protest.

    Just a disclaimer: I fully understand that protesting is a right under the First Amendment, and I accept that. I just think there are better ways to change the country and that any person who's realistic about the options should realize that.
  • hmm on March 4, 2007 at 1:39 PM
    hypothetically, would a person in this class be able to attend a counter-protest for credit as well?
  • i also take peace studies on March 5, 2007 at 11:47 AM
    I see no reason why a person would take PEACE STUDIES, if they aren't interested in the goal of peace. Peace may be unattainable, and you may be against protesting a war you believe in...but are you really against going to a yoga seminar? Or a speech on how men can stop rape? Ms. Malone isn't creating an army of anti-war raging liberals...she's showing students that we can find peace in the world, and ourselves. These seminars only help expand our understanding.
  • Hardcore J3sus Fr3ak on March 5, 2007 at 5:05 PM
    Don't pass judgement on the class based on this article. The assignment is really for the students and it is perfectly reasonable for a student to be REQUIRED to participate in an outside activity, especially when there is a cornucopia of activites available.
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