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April 29 , 2011

Teaching Peace

Students Exchange Letters with Their Teacher


To see if nonviolence could be taught, in 1982 Colman McCarthy became a volunteer teacher at one of the poorest high schools in Washington, DC. In the thirty-two years since then, he has taught peace studies courses for more than ten thousand college and high school students. Large numbers of those students have faithfully kept in touch with McCarthy, often with handwritten letters, and he has answered them with the same seriousness he brought to his columns and books. The exchanges rise to a rare kind of literature that blends personal warmth, intellectual honesty, and shared idealism.

The discussions range from peace and war to a host of other issues of social justice, such as the death penalty, human rights, poverty, the living wage, animal rights, and vegetarianism. The wide-ranging letters suggest how teacher and students co-create a world of more love and less hate.

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