I’m writing today from Kampala, Uganda after 10 days of training, learning, and good fun with the teachers of the Insight Collaborative Peace Education Project (PEP).

Peace Education Teachers, December 2018

In 2011, Insight designed and implemented a unique Peace Education Project for secondary schools in northern Uganda. The teaching materials combine key pieces from the Facing History curriculum and the Harvard Negotiation Project’s, Getting to Yes and Difficult Conversation. The program is intended to help students address past atrocities and build skills for a peaceful future. It has been several years since anyone from the United States visited the Project, so I had the great honor of representing Insight on the visit.

The trainings I delivered during my visit took on a slightly different feel than those I delivered in Ghana. They were, of course, intended to help teachers manage their own conflicts, but more specifically, the goal was to enable them to deliver these trainings to their 7th and 8th grade classes as a part of PEP.

Practicing the “Arm Exercise”

As I finished each section of the training, I would divide them into small groups so that they could practice delivering the training they had just learned. It was an intriguing experience to watch them – like looking through a weak pair of prescription glasses. I could see that the content was familiar, but the details and the interpretation was imprecise.

Or was it? Should their delivery be just like mine?

If “yes”, then as the lead trainer, I would probably encourage them to adapt a delivery resembling my own, focusing on surface-level details like vocabulary, speed and projection.

Getting Curious!

Alternatively, though, I could get curious, as I’ve so often recommended, and engage the teachers in a dialogue about their delivery. This alternate course takes us deeper into the human psyche. Together, we explore questions like, “Why do we choose to say xyz?”, “How does our various methods of delivery help us communicate the lessons we would like our students to remember?”, “How might the Ugandan culture impact their delivery?”

Put another way, this became an exercise in applying content to the content itself!

Explaining this is a little bit like watching the movie Inception. Content within content isn’t so different than “a dream within a dream.” A curious-based mindset allows space for discovering how participants’ natural tendencies digest concepts differently and might then influence how they train.

In the end, we all left the training having explored how curiosity can help us expand our perceptions of self, appreciation of others who differ from us, and awareness of how we interact together. Another great reason to stay curious!