Introducing the PeaceWorks module on Human Rights at Delhi Public School, Pune

At 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, Delhi Public School, Pune, witnessed an outburst of energy as forty-one teachers started their day enthusiastically playing zip-zap-boing, before turning balls of energy into kittens, kittens to umbrellas, umbrellas to flowers and flowers into earrings and the like as part of the icebreaking session for the day. The teachers, from Delhi Public School, G.G.International School, Sarhad School, Indira National school, Academic Heights Public School, Lexicon School, Amanora School, Mansukhbhai Kothari National School, City International School, Wanaworie, S.N.B.P. International School, Rahatani and S.N.B.P International School, Mowadi had come to a workshop that would introduce the Peaceworks Human Rights Defenders module.

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Post the icebreaking session, there was a discussion on discrimination—that which is rampant in society in general along with that which has been witnessed over time by the teachers themselves. Issues of child labour, child marriage and discrimination against women came up as did the behaviour towards domestic help, class bias and the discrimination in classrooms faced by differently abled children. The heated discussions and debate on these issues bounced off an exercise in image theatre, where four groups of participants had to focus on any one issue they were concerned about as a group and form a tableau representing the same. The tableaus, initially meant to be representative of only one issue, were multifaceted, the image presented analysed variously by their peers, inspiring the following discussion wherein stories of discrimination at various levels, including the home and the classroom were shared. The introduction to the Peaceworks Human Rights Defenders module led to thoughts about how it can be incorporated in the classroom for various ages.

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The second half of the session dealt with forgiveness, survival and moving on. It started with a game of The Soldiers and the Skipper, a physical enactment of the oppressor and the oppressed followed by a debriefing of the same, discussing the emotions experienced through the course of the game by both those playing the role of the soldiers, the oppressor and those playing the role of the oppressed skipper. The participants were then given handouts with excerpts from Brigette Sion’s ‘Conflicting Sites of Memory in Post- Genocide Cambodia’ and ‘Liberia’ by Ryan Lobo and shown the trailer of ‘Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll’ before being split into four groups to discuss the concepts of forgiveness/survival/moving on. One of the prominent threads of discussion that rose was that it is comparatively easier to forgive an individual seeking forgiveness than groups, even if the individual is representative of the actions of the groups as a whole. Narratives of Partition came up, as did the Bhopal Gas leak, with participants sharing personal stories, some of forgiveness as a way of survival and some of the unwillingness to forgive since they viewed forgiveness as a way of encouraging the perpetrator further. The death penalty was among the topics heavily debated.

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The take away from this discussion was looking at forgiveness as a survival mechanism – as one teacher put it, one can always choose to be on the road towards forgiveness, irrespective of whether/when they actually reach the point where they forgive. The session went into a discussion on identity with a screening of Hetain Patel’s TED talk before the participants assigned a word to themselves and their identity in the context of the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’.

At the end of the day, the teachers reflected an enthusiasm to incorporate the presented module in their classrooms.

-Anushka Halder

Learning to Live with Difference: A resource for teachers to engage with high school students in the understanding of human rights and inspiring them to become human rights defenders. This supplementary module serves as a starting point for teachers to build upon using current events and their own creativity. 

If you wish to use the module in your school, write to us at peaceworks@seagullindia.com

 

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