The Peace Table – Lessons From a Pre-School Teacher

I’ve been struggling with my emotions regarding the events that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. My feelings have included: sadness, shock, anger, hate, frustration, disbelief, and more sadness. I have been all over the board, but for some strange reason today, I thought of my daughter’s pre-school teacher, Miss Linda, and how she would handle the situation.

Ten years ago, when my daughter was in pre-school, she was fortunate to have two great teachers: Linda and Linda. We affectionately called them ‘The Lindas,’ and boy, were they a great team. Linda 2 had the gift of making up songs and stories. My child came home quite frequently, singing a new song that Linda 2 made up with them. She taught the children how to express themselves creatively and loved her job.

The other Linda, Linda 1 (because she had seniority), had her talents too. Here are only three examples of what she taught my daughter that still ring true to this day.

  1. Linda 1 taught my daughter to love animals. Linda always had at least one pet in the room at all times. It might be a gerbil, or goldfish, or a ferret, but there was always something alive in that room. Sometimes, the kids got to welcome a new baby to their class, and at other times, they witnessed an animal’s final breath. Linda taught the children that all creatures are precious and have a place in the world – just like them.
  2. Linda 1 also taught my daughter the act of journaling. Every day, the kids received a piece of paper and were encouraged to write or draw whatever they were feeling. It may be a few scratches one day, and on another, it might be a drawing of two friends playing on the playground together. When the kids starting learning their letters, they progressed into writing words and sentences. At the end of every month, the parents were sent home with that month’s journal packet. I was amazed at how my daughter went from a few scratches to full sentences and pretty pictures. I still have all those journals tucked away because they meant so much to me. Linda was teaching my child how to express her feelings on paper, in words and in drawings.
  3. The third and most important idea Linda 1 taught the pre-schoolers was conflict resolution. In the back corner of the room, she had a little, white, round plastic table with two little chairs. Knowing Linda 1, I’m sure she bought it at a yard sale for a dollar. Out of blue painter’s tape, she formed the peace symbol and it covered the top of the table. She called it her Peace Table. Whenever there was a situation with two kids, whether it be fighting over a toy, tussling on the playground, pinching (sometimes biting), or fussing in the classroom, she would calmly take the children to the Peace Table and explain their assignment. The two children were to sit at the table and… wait for it… talk out their problems! What a concept! They didn’t have to leave the table agreeing with one another. They didn’t have to be best friends or anything like that. They had to talk to one another and respect each other as human beings.

I think the world needs a Peace Table. If we could talk to one another without yelling, without expecting to change someone’s opinions, or without hitting, maybe the world would be a better place.

If pre-schoolers can understand the concept, I think adults can.

And the Lindas would be proud.

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