Sue Kramer: Schools should empower students to become problem-solvers

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Published: 11-20-2023 8:30 AM

I spent my life teaching toddlers and preschoolers, and I always taught conflict resolution techniques in my classroom. Even the youngest children proved capable of solving problems with their peers, once their feelings and needs were acknowledged. The current horrific war in the Middle East is the inevitable result of a simmering conflict that has been going on since before 1948. At this point, the leaders of Israel and Palestine are unable to even consider the other side’s needs and rights.

Friday, I was reeling from the news that more than 4,000 children in Gaza had been killed in the past few weeks. Then I opened up my newspaper and saw your front-page story about children as young as 12 being groomed to be soldiers; a local school had provided a Junior ROTC program (and paid for half of it) [“New program exposes students to military service,” Recorder, Nov. 10]. The children were given “brief descriptions of conflicts the United States has been involved with.” They probably came away feeling proud. But many of those conflicts were a horrible waste of human life and resources.

The United States spends half of our discretionary budget on the military, and much less on our failing infrastructure and education systems. (We give $3.3 billion dollars a year to Israel alone; they use 99.7% for their military). Can’t we use our resources in a better way? One of the resources available to our society is our children. What if our schools empowered children to become problem-solvers? What if children grew up thinking they could help the world through peaceful, not military, solutions? The parents whose children took part in the ROTC program should demand that their children spend equal time being exposed to a peace curriculum at the school.

Sue Kramer


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