Violence and nonviolence are two tools to use in problem solving in education. Both are based on the understanding that conflict is natural and it is inevitable. In practice, both involve certain virtues such as discipline, courage, loyalty, and work ethic. However, nonviolence in problem solving is the antidote to violence. Violence seeks change by willingly perpetrating acts of suffering and sacrifice on others. Nonviolence seeks change by willingly accepting suffering and sacrifice.
Violence applies structural, physical, or psychological force to implore someone else to change. Many practices in our public schools today apply force in problem solving. The use of armed police officers, metal detectors, and handcuffs, treating behavior problems as security threats and treating children as criminals applies force for change. The disproportionate tracking of students of color and low-income students into low performing classes applies force for change. Educators’ blaming of parents as the cause of the school’s low achievement, abrogating educators’ own personal responsibility, applies force for change.
Nonviolence, on the other hand, seeks change by willingly accepting suffering and sacrifice. The nonviolent educator looks for ways to change her own conduct, to organize other educators, to motivate, inspire, and guide transformation in themselves, in their students, and in the school structure itself.
The nonviolent educator addresses problems in education, such as student achievement, as her own problems. She affirms herself in her work. Her teaching satisfies a need to work, to educate. She feels herself inside of her work; when she is teaching, she is her true self, and through teaching, she develops and transforms herself as an educator, and assists her students in their own development and transformation.
Moreover, this nonviolent educator addresses the source of perceived problems not as pertaining to the student alone, nor to the educator alone, but as the problem of a school system based on corporate profit that needs restructuring. She applies love, courage, and discipline. She organizes herself, her colleagues, her students, their parents, and other educators to engage civically, to join or form organization to help restructure the system. They gather information, educate, discuss, negotiate, and are not afraid to apply direct action to morally force school structures to do what the community needs and a just education demands.